July 22, 2020
Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said defence diplomacy and cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan had been growing from strength to strength through mutual trust built on political, economic, cultural and educational relationships between two countries.
Referring to Pakistan’s contribution in Sri Lanka’s humanitarian operations during the war, he said bilateral relations between two nations, when Sri Lanka was engulfed in a brutal war with the now defunct LTTE, were strong.
He said Sri Lanka would never forget the support extended by Pakistan when the country was fighting to end the decade’s long war against terrorism and also when unsubstantiated human rights allegations were levelled against the country.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed”, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said “Being Sri Lankans, we will never forget the support extended by Pakistan during our hard times”.
He also said Pakistan and Sri Lanka were maintaining a very healthy, cordial relationship since the evolution of Pakistan to date.
Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Gunaratne expressed these views delivering the key note address as the Chief Guest at the ‘Centenary Medals’ awarding ceremony held in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the Pakistan Command and Staff College (PCSC) in Quetta, Pakistan, today (July 22).
Organized by the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka, the ceremony was held at the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Batalanda in Makola this morning.
The welcome speech was delivered by Pakistani High Commission’s Defence Attaché Col. Sajjad Ali, who himself was a student officer at the Batalanda DSCSC in 2015.
Thirty seven Sri Lankan military officers, who had graduated from the esteemed PCSC in Quetta were awarded ‘Centenary Medals’ at the event.
Among the Sri Lankan graduates from the PCSC, 10 officers are still serving in the ranks while 27 have been retired from the military service.
Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Gunaratne, who is also an alumni of the PCSC, was awarded with a venerated medal by the Pakistani High Commissioner Maj. Gen. (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak.
Incidentally, Pakistani High Commissioner Maj. Gen. Khattak was in the directing staff at the PCSC in 2000, when Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was following his staff course.
The medals were announced by the Pakistani Government for 37 Sri Lankan officers who had graduated from the PCSC from 1960-2005.
Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne said the event marked a milestone on bilateral relationship between two countries and also extended his gratitude on behalf of the award recipients and Sri Lankan Government towards the Pakistani Government, Pakistani armed forces and the High Commission officials for organizing the event.
Founded in 1905, the PCSC in Quetta, remains as the oldest and the most prestigious institution of the Pakistani Army.
The institution has been the alma mater for many renowned military professionals including Field Marshals Archibald Wavell, Bernard Montgomery, Sir Claude Auchinleck, William Slim (UK), Blarney (Australia), Ayub Khan (Pakistan) and Sam Manekshaw (India).
“Sri Lankan military officers were offered the opportunity to be a part of the PCSC’s legacy in 1960. Since then, fellow Sri Lankan alumni of the Staff College had contributed immensely in ending the terrorism scourge that prevailed in the country”, the Defence Secretary said.
He also said, Sri Lanka was reciprocating to a greater extent by providing a number of vacancies for Pakistani military annually and intended to offer more opportunities for Pakistani military officers with the establishment of the National Defence College in Sri Lanka in next year.
Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, Commandant of Batalanda DSCSC, Maj. Gen. Prabath Dematanpitiya and several senior military officials were also present at the occasion.