Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday expressed “deep concern” and “shock” over a violent mob in Pakistan’s Punjab province lynching and burning the body of a Sri Lankan national over alleged blasphemy.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to President Gotabaya, and the Rajapaksas have expressed confidence that Mr. Khan would bring perpetrators to justice.
In a statement issued by his office President Gotabaya, who is currently in Abu Dhabi attending the Indian Ocean Conference, said the “act of barbarism” is a great shock to Sri Lankans as well as to all those who value humanity.
“As an ardent friend of Pakistan, Sri Lanka commends the actions taken by the Government of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure justice, immediately after this brutal assassination. The Sri Lankan Government and the people of Sri Lanka look forward with great confidence on the future steps that will be taken by the Government of Pakistan in this regard,” it said. Further, President Rajapaksa said: “extremist activities of any nature create grave chaos in a society.”
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris told The Hindu in Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of the Indian Ocean Conference, that his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi called him, and promised to make available to Sri Lanka all the information from the probe. "Prime Minister Imran Khan also called the President, he offered his condolences, and assured us of a full inquiry at the earliest, he said.
Asked if Colombo planned to send a team to conduct investigations, Minister Peiris said Sri Lanka would like to allow the investigations in Pakistan to proceed, and would await more information in the next two days. "They do expect to have more information in the next 48 hours about how such an incident could have occurred, and they have already taken about 120 people into custody," he said.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan have enjoyed strong and cordial diplomatic ties for decades. PM Khan visited Sri Lanka in February this year. Following the grisly attack, both Islamabad and Colombo appeared keen on avoiding a diplomatic flashpoint. While strongly condemning the attack, the Sri Lankan side repeatedly expressed confidence that justice would be served, and the Pakistani leadership reached out swiftly, assuring the same at the highest levels.
In a tweet on Saturday, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said: “Shocking to see the brutal and fatal attack on Priyantha Diyawadana by extremist mobs in #Pakistan. My heart goes out to his wife and family. #SriLanka and her people are confident that PM @ImranKhanPTI will keep to his commitment to bring all those involved to justice.
Mr. Diyawadana, 40, from Sri Lanka’s central Kandy district, was employed as the general manager of a garment factory in Sialkot district, about 120 kms north of Lahore.
PM Khan has termed Friday’s incident a “horrific vigilante attack” and said it was a “day of shame” for Pakistan. Those responsible would be punished with “the full severity of the law”, he said.
On Saturday, Sri Lanka’s Parliament condemned the incident, and urged Islamabad to ensure the safety of other Sri Lankan workers residing in Pakistan.
The Muslim Civil Society Alliance in Sri Lanka, a group of civil society organisations and activists, condemned “the horrific killing”. “The Muslim Civil Society Alliance is shocked and condemns the cold-blooded murder of fellow Sri Lankan brother Mr. Priyantha Diyawadana by a rabid mob, accusing him of blasphemy,” a statement said, adding: “This is an extremely shameful and barbaric crime and should not be tolerated. Extra judicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost by anyone, no matter which religion, ethnicity or nationality they belong to.”