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Buddhist delegation praises Pakistan for its commitment to preserving Buddhist heritage

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Maj. Gen. (R) Saad Khattak meets the delegation on its arrival in Colombo (pic courtesy Pakistan HC)

The Chief incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple Ven Dr. Assaji Thera said that Pakistani authorities were keen on the views expressed by a delegation of Buddhist monks during a recent visit to Pakistan. The Ven Thera said so on his return to Colombo on Monday (26).

The following is the text of a statement issued by the Pakistan High Commission yesterday: “The Most Venerable Buddhist Monks delegation on a goodwill visit to Pakistan from 19-26th April, 2021 returned to Colombo on Monday 26th April and were received by the High Commissioner of Pakistan Major General (R) Muhammad Saad Khattak along with other senior officers of its High Commission in Colombo at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

While welcoming the Most Venerable Monks on their return, the High Commissioner Maj. Gen. (R) Saad Khattak said that the highly successful tour was organized by the High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo and was the culmination of ongoing efforts for enhancing people-to-people contacts and Buddhist religious tourism between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner expressed his gratitude to the Most Venerable Monks for undertaking the tour and the Government of Sri Lanka for facilitating the same. He also appreciated the role and efforts of the security forces, the National Heritage & Culture Division and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad for conducting the visit in the most befitting manner. He underscored that the meetings of the Monks with the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan reflected the strong bilateral relations and deep commitment of the leadership and people of Pakistan towards Sri Lanka.

On behalf of the delegation, the Venerable Dr. Assaji Thera, Chief incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple, expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and for the personal involvement of the High Commissioner of Pakistan in extending immense support in arranging the tour, which provided an invaluable opportunity to visit and experience the glorious Buddhist heritage and relics in Pakistan. He highlighted that the Pakistani authorities and officials gave top priority to their comfort and safety during their stay and were also keen on their views and recommendations on improving facilities for Buddhist pilgrims in the country.

The accompanying coordinating official from the Sri Lankan side, Dr. Asela Wickrmasinghe, highlighted Pakistan Government’s vision to develop Buddhist tourism between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to which end the visit of a group of 11 senior Buddhist monks was organized by the High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo in order to explore the Buddhist heritage in Pakistan. He expressed his gratitude to the Government of Pakistan and the High Commission for this initiative and for the wonderful and enthusiastic hospitality of the Pakistani people towards Sri Lankans during their visit. He further highlighted that they were able to witness first-hand the respect that Pakistani citizens have for other religions and their keenness to preserve Buddhist heritage in the country. He also highlighted that as a result of the linkages built with various stakeholders during the visit, arrangements were in process for a Buddhist pilgrimage visit of Sri Lankans to Pakistan in the near future.

 

 



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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