As a continuation of the cornea diplomacy started by us during the stewardship of a much respected High Commissioner for Pakistan in Sri Lanka Gen. (R) Shakeel Hussein and his able Deputy Dr. Sarfaraz Sipra almost five years ago, the Delegation of the Giving Sight Foundation of Sri Lanka has recently returned from a very eventful tour of Pakistan which is truly appreciative and grateful to Sri Lanka for the precious gift of human corneas.
Our entire program there was personally coordinated by Sri Lanka’s efficient and highly popular High Commissioner in Islamabad Noordeen Shaheid, his diplomatic and other staff and the Sri Lanka Consulate in Karachi together with SriLankan Airlines in Pakistan.
We donated 65 corneas this time around making it a total of 250 corneas donated by us, and we had the distinct honour and privilege of meeting with President Dr. Arif Alvi and their legendary Prime Minister Imran Khan, both of whom expressed their gratitude and respect for Sri Lanka in continuing with this humanitarian and extremely meritorious project that cannot be valued in rupees and cents.
Both their President and Prime Minister were excited about the impending visit of our Cricket Team to Pakistan and stated that they were looking forward to personally seeing both teams in action. Needless to say, Imran Khan is a much respected personality in the international cricket arena and was the world cup winning Pakistani Team in 1992. President Alvi, by his own admission, is an avid cricket fan, who makes it a point to watch cricket matches on the grounds in person and on TV despite his busy schedule.
Lately, there has been some concerns about the security situation in Pakistan. However, as a frequent visitor to that beautiful country and having personally experienced their wonderful hospitality, protocol and security as a genuine friend of Pakistan, I’m pretty sure they will extend all of this and much more on a top priority basis to our cricketing ambassadors.
Pakistan loves Sri Lanka and Pakistanis consider us as members of one family. They have always supported us immensely in our good and bad times. In fact, the entire country is looking forward to this cricket tour.
I understand that security and other appraisals have been carried out by those with much more knowledge and experience in such matters than me. The feedback I have got is that it was positive.
The decision to go or not is entirely in the hands of our Prime Minister, Sports Minister, Board of Control for Cricket and our security experts.
I can only say that Pakistan will look after our team well if they decide to go. Sports is much larger than political or other differences. It brings all peoples together.
Sri Lanka-Pakistan Zindabad!
– Ifthikhar Aziz, Tamgha e Khidmat (Pakistan 2017)
Chairman, Giving Sight Foundation of Sri Lanka