Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne (Retired), the newly appointed Sri Lanka High Commissioner to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, visited the Pakistan Navy War College in Lahore. During his visit, he reminisced about his time as a student at the college in 1995/6 when it was located in Karachi. Admiral Wijegunaratne earned a BSc (Hons) in War Studies from Karachi University. As a regular visiting lecturer on “Asymmetric Naval Warfare,” he has made significant contributions to Pakistan-Sri Lanka defence relations.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the Pakistan Government awarded Admiral Wijegunaratne the prestigious Nishan-e-Imitiuaz Medal in February 2019, making him the only Sri Lankan recipient of this honour. The medal is akin to the Medal of Honor in the United States or the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the United Kingdom.
Addressing a seminar organized by Punjab University Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) in collaboration with Dr. Jahangir Badar Institute of Vision and Leadership, Admiral Wijegunaratne highlighted the importance of strengthening people-to-people contact between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The seminar, held to mark ‘SAARC Charter Day,’ saw the participation of notable figures, including former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India Shahid Malik and Honorary Consul General of Sri Lanka Yasin Joeya.
During his address, Admiral Wijegunaratne shared his deep affection for Pakistan and Lahore, expressing optimism about reviving the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an effective organization to address regional issues.
The SAARC Charter Day event, organized by CSAS and Dr. Jahangir Badar Institute of Vision and Leadership, featured discussions on leadership development and the potential of SAARC to unite South Asian countries economically. Zulfikar Ali Badar, CEO of Dr. Jahangir Badar Institute, emphasized the significance of developing leadership skills.
Dr. Naheed S. Goraya, Director of CSAS, underscored SAARC’s potential as an economic entity and called for understanding the challenges faced by member countries. Shahid Malik emphasized the need for dialogue and regular meetings among South Asian representatives to overcome issues hindering SAARC’s functionality.
Admiral Wijegunaratne, as the guest of honour, reiterated the importance of people-to-people contact in strengthening bilateral ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He concluded his address with a positive outlook on reviving SAARC to address regional challenges.
The event was concluded by Dr. Shabbir Ahmad Khan, Professor in the Department of Political Science, who thanked the distinguished guests and commended the organizers for their efforts in hosting the SAARC Charter Day event. The discussions and insights shared during the seminar highlighted the collective commitment to fostering regional cooperation and overcoming challenges within the SAARC framework.