Islamabad - Invitations to Sri Lankan National Day receptions have always been without a RSVP call.

The local guests look forward to the evening as there are many associations and similarities between the two countries.

To begin with, Sri Lanka is just six months younger than Pakistan as our day of independence falls on August 14, 1947 and Sri Lanka’s falls on February 4, 1948. 

Both countries have very cordial and warm business relationship and are close SAARC members. 

Their culture as well as cuisine finds a lot of similarities and inroads to ours.

But let us give the credit where it is due.

It was General Musharraf who takes the cake away, for writing the name Sri Lanka not only in the curriculum of history books for students of Pakistan Studies but also on the heart of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

The city from where General Musharraf, the then COAS, flew on October 12, 1999 to declare Martial Law in Pakistan, last one till today and the scripted hijacking was Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

The political history of Pakistan changed forever and Sri Lanka now is part of our history.

As luck would have it, exactly after 10 years in 2009, Sri Lankan cricket team en-route to the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore was attacked by terrorists.

It was the 3rd day of the 2nd Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 

Six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured, whereas Pakistani policemen and as well as civilians lost their lives defending our guests. 

The stupefied bus driver carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team drove the bus to safety daring sniper and machine gun bullet attacks and became a hero.

He was later invited by the then President of Sri Lanka and awarded for his courage and valour. 

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Pakistan Major General (Retd) Jayanath Lokuketagodage is a highly decorated army officer with more than 30 years of service in the Sri Lankan Army.

A good listener with a smiling face, General Lokuketagodage has made many friends in last one year of his arrival as was evident with the crowded reception.

Sri Lankan naming system has always amused me.

It is very different from the Western systems.

There is no given name or surname.

They have a clan name, which appears before the given name. 

This name is passed down from generation to generation and may also contain name of the ancestral village, rank, hierarchy etc.

Sometimes two names are combined and appear to be one. 

The Sri Lankan name when transcribed into English looks longer than the usual names but in actual a name using 11 letters in English is in fact six letters in Sinhala, a Sri Lankan dialect.

The evening reception was a cultural extravaganza for the guests.

Sri Lankan cultural troupe dressed in bright yellow, green and red costumes performed various dances representing different festivities and regions.  

The national anthem of the Sri Lanka, which is relatively long, was very melodious.

However, a European ambassador who has been posted in Brazil, informed that it was much shorter than the Brazilian national anthem.

“It’s like a military band and at one of the receptions in Sao Palo, the host had to cut it short due to time management,” informed the ambassador. 

When Khurram Dastagir is a chief guest, he means business and the gatherings are dominated with business talks.

The commerce minister also never misses an opportunity to mention the economic growth of Pakistan and gives all the credit to the prime minister. 

When asked on the US-Pak economic future under Trump era, a US official was sceptical.

However, he informed based on his experience that the trickle-down effect takes six to eight months.

“For now there is no advisory to dry out funds but even if it comes through, there will be plenty of time, before it comes into effect,” he said. 

Today was not the day to discuss American politics rather the National Football League (NFL). 

It was Super Bowl day and the five time ring winner quarterback Tom Brady had replaced Donald Trump from the headline news on the front pages of US newspapers.