ISLAMABAD -  Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that stronger Pak-Sri Lankan partnership was key to promoting greater cooperation in the region and also a bulwark against the challenges facing the region including the issue of terrorism and poverty besides warding off any self-assumed notion of hegemony in the region.

This he said while talking to former President of Sri Lanka Rajapaksa Percy Mahinda at Punjab House here on Thursday when the latter called on him along with his delegation, says a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

The Sri Lankan delegation included Mr Gamini Lakshman Peris, former Foreign Minister; Mr Dullas Dhaham Kumara Alahapperuma, former Minister, Mr Wimmal Weerawansha, former Minister, Mr Lokubandara Udith Sanjaya, and Mr Yoshitha Kanishka Rajapaksa .

Welcoming the visiting delegation, the Minister remarked that the former President Rajapaksa Mahinda was known to Pakistani people as one of the true friends of Pakistan who, during his tenure, not just added great strength to the Pak-Sri Lankan relations but was also instrumental in diversifying this equation in all possible areas of mutual cooperation.

Chaudhry Nisar while expressing satisfaction over the steady and upward trajectory of Pak-Sri Lankan economic, political, socio-cultural and defence cooperation observed that their relations spanning over six decades were characterised by spirit of sincerity, friendship, mutual respect, understanding and mutual cooperation for the benefit of our people.

Nisar said that Pakistan and Sri Lanka faced challenges of similar nature and their strategic friendship was critical not only to ward off hegemonic intentions in the region but also to fight their mutual challenges and issues. If poverty, natural calamities and socio-economic conditions pose challenges to our ordinary people, the issues of terrorism, volatile regional peace and instability threaten us at the State level thus impeding our march towards progress and securing brighter and secure future for our people, continued the Minister.

He said that the tenure of former President Rajapaksa had provided the two countries with a solid base to further build on gains of the past and broaden the scope of the existing relations by exploring new avenues of cooperation especially in the areas of economy, security, border management, capacity building of law-enforcement agencies, fighting illicit drug trade and human trafficking.

The two leaders also discussed regional situation. There was unanimity of views that Pak-Sri Lankan relations and bilateral cooperation needs to be further strengthened.

Former President Rajapaksa thanked the Interior Minister and the Government of Pakistan for the warm welcome that was extended to him and his delegation during his visit and expressed the hope that the two countries would continue to tread the path that leads to greater cooperation and greater understanding between the two countries in the years to follow.