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43 Pakistanis serving jail sentences in SL repatriated to Islamabad

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by T. K. G. Kapila, BIA Correspondent

Forty three Pakistani nationals incarcerated in Sri Lankans jails for narcotics offences were repatriated to their home country on Wednesday.

The convicts, who were released from jail on a request by the Pakistani government, left for Islamabad aboard a special Pakistan International Airlines flight PK9873 at 4.00 am, officials said.

On board the special flight, which landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) at 10.50 pm the previous day, were 86 Pakistani security officers detailed to escort the prisoners to Islamabad, they said.

A Prisons Department bus transported the convicts to the BIA and handed them over to Sri Lanka Immigration. Individual files on the 43 prisoners, who were serving jail terms ranging from 10 to 15 years, were given to the Pakistani security officials, the officials said.

The convicts will be completing their jail terms in Pakistan, they said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, said High Commissioner Major General (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak bade farewell to the prisoners at the BIA.

Addressing them at the departure lounge, he advised the prisoners to refrain from crimes in future and lead a better life with their loved ones after they reach Pakistan.

“Life in prison is not an encouraging way of living, especially when they had to suffer for their crimes away from their motherland and families for such a long time”, the envoy noted.

The prisoners were very happy to go back to Pakistan and commit themselves to lead a healthy and productive life after they are out of prison, the High Commission said in a news release.

The prisoners thanked the Pakistani High Commissioner for the help extended in their long and technical repatriation process including the assistance provided to them by the High Commission, while they were waiting for the process to be completed, it added.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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