Officials have, however, reportedly said pandemic-related restrictions were to be blamed for the move to cancel Pakistan PM Imran Khan's address to Sri Lankan Parliament

The Sri Lankan government has cancelled a scheduled address to its Parliament by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan next week as the latter could apparently raise the issue of Kashmir.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the island government had to re-think its invite to Khan to speak in Parliament during a two-day visit as officials discussed implications of the Pakistan premier bringing up the sensitive issue.

However, officials reportedly have said pandemic-related restrictions were to be blamed for the move.

Khan is scheduled meet Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and foreign minister Dinesh Gunawardena during the two-day visit starting February 22.

Speaker Mahinda Abeywardena had reportedly leaders of political parties that the Pakistan PM would address Parliament on February 24.

“The planned address to Parliament doesn’t appear to have been well thought through. There were considerable discussions within the government at which the possibility of Prime Minister Khan referring to the Kashmir issue came up,” a source was quoted as saying.

Pakistan has raised the Kashmir issue at several international events and brought it up even during a virtual meeting of SAARC leaders convened by India last year to discuss ways to counter the Covid-19 pandemic.

Islamabad has reportedly had made a request to Colombo for Khan to address Parliament. The last foreign leader to address Sri Lanka’s Parliament was Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

The move also comes days after Lanka scrapped a deal to develop a major port terminal with India and Japan amid weeks-long protests by trade unions and opposition parties.