Maithripala Sirisena, the President of Sri Lanka, on Friday, detached himself from Islamabad’s claim of offers for mediation and dialogue facilitation emerging from Sri Lanka in an attempt to resume the SAARC platform and a find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing regional tensions.The office of the Sri Lankan President distanced the President from the remarks of mediation between India and Pakistan over the ongoing escalations in Indian-occupied Kashmir-as quoted by a press release issued by the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka.Earlier on Wednesday, the Pakistan High Commission issued a press release to apprise the media of the meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and Pakistan’s High Commission to Sri Lanka, retired Major General Dr. Shahid Ahmed Hashmat.
The press release stated, “The President acknowledged that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and expressed his desire that this dispute should be resolved according to the wishes of Kashmiris under UN Resolutions.”
The press release also stated that President Sirisena had offered Sri Lanka to play the role of a mediator and facilitator of a dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi in an attempt to re-activate the platform of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
It added, “He also offered Sri Lanka’s mediation and facilitation of dialogue between Pakistan and India to re-activate the SAARC forum. He further said that resolution of Kashmir issue is essential for permanent peace and stability in the region.”
Later on Thursday, the media wing of the Sri Lankan President’s office issued a statement, distancing the President from the remarks attributed to him in the press release issued by the Pakistan High Commission.
The press release noted that the meeting between President Sirisena and the Pakistani High Commissioner took place at the request of the latter. The press release read, “The President’s Media Division wishes to state that the said meeting took place at the request of the High Commissioner of Pakistan and during which he briefed the President about the recent developments with regard to India’s abrogation of Article 370 and annulling of Article 35A of the Constitution of India.”
It added, “The President gave a patient hearing to the Pakistan High Commissioner’s views and stated that both India and Pakistan have excellent friendly relations with Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s interest is to see the growth of regional cooperation and friendship. The President did not make any other comment on the issues pertaining to India and Pakistan.”