Monday, December 13, 2010

Salman Taseer is a big player in Colombo share market, says Sri Lankan envoy

ISLAMABAD: The Sri Lankan high commissioner in Pakistan has revealed that Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer is a big player in Sri Lankan share market and a significant investor in the Colombo stock exchange.

“If the governor has gone to Sri Lanka, he must have travelled on a private passport otherwise on official or diplomatic passport. He is required to obtain visa from the High Commission before embarking on the journey. At least I am not aware of his visit to Sri Lanka last week,” Sri Lankan High Commissioner Air Chief Marshal (R) Jayalath Weerakkody said in an exclusive chat with The News here at Japanese Embassy on Thursday evening where he turned up to attend the reception for celebrating birthday of Japanese emperor hosted by Japanese Ambassador Chihiro Atsumi. It was a mammoth reception where the guests were served delicious eastern and Japanese cousins.

The high commissioner said Sri Lanka share marker was blooming these days and the business could be transacted by the Punjab governor without travelling to Colombo, but ‘he must have reasons for his undertaking the journey if he has done so’. He said he would check with the authorities concerned whether the governor, who is an important office bearer of the government, had gone to Sri Lanka during these days.

“I am confident that he has not travelled on the official passport of which he is entitled to have as a governor because in that case he is required to seek visa for which no request came to the commission.

“Sri Lanka being a member of the Saarc country has no visa for the nationals of the member countries except those who are official or diplomatic passport holders. Now the agreement has been inked for the relaxation of rules for all type of passports but the directive has to reach the officials concerned,” the high commissioner explained.

He said visiting Sri Lanka from Pakistan was so easy that anybody could make any number of trips of the each other country.

He said a Pakistani national visited Sri Lanka 49 times in less than six months, but when he was on his way to enter the country for 50th time, he was stopped and questioned about the purpose of his so frequent visits to Sri Lanka, but he could not offer satisfactory reply and upon this he was denied 50th entry into Sri Lanka. Some people do visit Sri Lanka for pearls, drugs (medicines), and other small purchases, the ambassador added.

The high commissioner said he had read in the newspaper that the Punjab governor had gone to Dubai, which is the headquarters of political activities, but he was surprised to listen about the governor’s going to Colombo. The United Arab Emirates ambassador, when asked about visit of the Punjab governor to his country, plainly expressed ignorance about any such visit. UAE envoy Ali Saif Sultan al-Awani, when asked about the trip by governor to his country, he too expressed surprise about the reported trip. The reception was attended by several important personalities of the twin cities including senior civil and military officials.

Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz Ibrahim bin Saleh al-Ghadeer, who appeared in the reception after about one month absence from the scene of the federal capital, was in pleasant disposition. He declined to offer any comment about the Haj expenditures and arrangements scam. The Saudi ambassador was visibly upset about the ailment of Saudi King and Custodian of the two holy mosques Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz who has been operated upon in the United States twice in recent days.

The Saudi ambassador told this scribe that Pakistan was perhaps only country of that Hujaj had to undergo difficult period in the Kingdom otherwise Saudi authorities did not receive any complaint by any country. Ambassador Abdul Aziz Ibrahim al-Ghadeer said the Saudi royal authorities had been trying their level best to provide maximum comfort to the Haj pilgrims since they were guests of Allah.

The Saudi ambassador and his Iranian counterpart Mashallah Shakari had a long session of whispering inside the residence of the Japanese ambassador.

US Ambassador Cameron Mentor, British High Commissioner Adam McClure Thomson and some European ambassadors were conspicuous with their absence from the heavily attended reception against the backdrop of flood of ‘information’ spread by the WikiLeaks. The US envoy, who is out to change the pattern of his country’s diplomacy, rarely misses such gatherings but he too did not show up.

The French ambassador Daniel Jouanneau Paul Henry was disturbed about the queries being made by the fellow guests with regard to assertions by President Sarkozy on Indian soil last week referring Pakistan for certain frivolous subjects.

The government was represented by four federal ministers as it is defiance of the directive of the Foreign Office for appearing one minister in such diplomatic receptions. Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Quaid attended the reception in large numbers including former foreign minister Mian Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, Muhammad Ejazul Haq, Raja Zafarul Haq, Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhry, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, Dr Shehzad Wasim, Azad Kashmir President Raja Zulqarnain, former AJK Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry and former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao.
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir (The News)

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