Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Interview - Tazeen Akhtar / Photos – Khadim Hussain

H.E Wijayanthi Edirisinghe is Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan. Before present postion severed Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw, Poland 2005- 2008   ( before that she was in Japan to learn Japanese language ) Young, energetic, vibrant, pleasant and beautiful personality, very humble lady.” Pakistan in the World” interviewed her for reader’s information and interest about Sri Lanka. Here are the main points of the question answers with her.

She gave very good and much awaited news for Pakistani Cricket when we asked “When the tour of Sri Lankan team is possible or can be expected?” She said that “Our team’s Pakistan tour is possible in next year 2016.

Excellency Wijayanthi was very optimistic about the cricket team visit to Pakistan as she continued “Pakistan is our close friend. Lahore Attack on our team was a misfortune for both countries. But such things can not affect our long lasting friendship. Pakistan helped us when there was terrorism problem in our country. Now it is our turn to respond. Cricket Boards of both countries are in touch and discussing the possibilities of tour next year. I am quite confident that our team can visit Pakistan next year. 

She says “Sri Lanka and Pakistan have very dynamic and strong bilateral relations since when we established in 1949. I am really happy with my progress and my performance. I always try my best to enhance our relations. There is huge potential of furthering and strengthening already existing cordial and warm ties between the two countries.”

Sri Lanka is multi cultural multi ethnic country.  We Sinhala Buddhist are in majority. All communities are living together in very peaceful coexistence. Sri Lankan nation believes in live and let live idea on peace, harmony and tolerance. Same is true for Pakistani nation. We have many things common including culture that brings us more and more closely.  That also supports establishment of People to people contacts.  

To another question, she said “I am here now for 4years and I found Pakistan indeed a good friend to Sri Lanka of course during war Pakistan helped us a lot. Without help of Pakistan we could not have defeated the terrorists.  Bilateral relations are strengthening day by day in multilateral levels and fields.

Taxila, Muzafarabad, Marree and Lahore are the most attractive places for Wijayanthi Edirisinghe. She loves to visit these cities and spend her leisure time there with family.

When we asked that to be a female envoy makes a difference or not? Are women better diplomats than men? She said “I trust women also powerful. Same as men.. Feminist theory says that both have to have equal opportunities. I feel I have it and work for the betterment of both countries.

Our next question was “Both countries have very cordial relations but recently Sri Lanka imposed Visa Regime for Pakistanis. What were the reasons that led to this hard decision?”

Acting H.C replied “Actually due to few reasons Sri Lankan Immigration authority has suspend on arrival visa for some countries. Pakistan is not the only country but included in that list. So this decision is not Pakistan specific. And further I hope things will be changed after a few months.

Pakistan in the World drew her attention towards the matter that Mutual Relations on Gov level are satisfactory but we see no or very few efforts for building people to people contacts.

Wijayanthi Edirisinghe said that we are trying our best to develop trade and economic relations as well. However people to people contacts still have to be improved. Both nations have good feelings for each other and it is necessary to provide them opportunities of coming closer and know more and more about one another. 

Terrorism remained a common problem in two countries. Sri Lanka controlled this menace after a long struggle and fight of years. Pakistan is still facing it. Situation is much better than the past. Talking on terror elimination, Acting H.C said that we are thankful to Pakistan for extending all possible cooperation in the war against terror in Sri Lanka. We suffered a lot because of terrorism but in the long run we succeeded in controlling and overcoming on this curse. Pakistan has also seen huge losses in shape of lives, property, infrastructure etc. Sri Lanka is always standing with Pakistan in this fight. We are ready to provide any help without any hesitation that Pakistan needs from us.

About Bilateral trade, H.E said this is on the rise after the implementation of Pakistan - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in 2005 and recorded at US $ 353.82 million in 2014. Exports from Sri Lanka to Pakistan recorded at US $ 74.24 million in 2014. The balance of trade is in favor of Pakistan as the imports from Pakistan to Sri Lanka stood at US $ 279.58 million 2014. We can promote trade in many ways. We have to work for it more and more. I am trying me best to introduce Sri Lankan Tea in Pakistan. 68 % of tea used in Pakistan comes from Kenya. Our share is very low. I am visiting chambers of commerce to promote our tea. I have introduced the samples to major importers. Sri Lankan tea is very rich in taste and it smells very good. I am sure Pakistani people will like it. We are arranging a seminar in Lahore very soon in which major exporters and importers of both countries will participate. Venue will be P.C Lahore. This seminar will provide them to discuss with each other how our tea can be promoted in Pakistan. This will pave the way for getting our market share in Pakistan.

H.E said that we have special incentives for businessmen community. Three months multiple visas for business and visit are facilitated by the High Commission. If they need to extend they can do when they are in Sri Lanka after visit to the immigrating and emigration Department Colombo.

About women of Pakistan, she says they are very beautiful in face as well in heart too.  Today most of Pakistani ladies are more forward  in every sector .

Wijayanthi Edirisinghe graduated from University of Colombo. Joined Foreign Service in 2003.  Spend time with family, traveling deferent places, photography are her hobbies. Special interest is in Social work

She considers  Pakistan her second home: She continued her higher Studies in Pakistan . Graduated M.Sc – IR from the National Defense University (NDU) in year 2013 and now following MPhil – IR from Preston University, Islamabad.  She is mother of two daughters.

Favorite dish is  Nihari , Mutton Qorma etc..