PARIS – Pakistan and France are enjoying excellent bilateral ties in all fields, especially in trade, economic and defence and these will be further enhanced and strengthened with the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Paris.

This was stated by Pakistan’s ambassador to France Shafqat Saeed while talking to APP here before the arrival of President Asif Ali Zardari who arrived here on three-day visit to France.  He said as it will be first ever visit of President Asif Ali Zardari after the new government of Socialist Party in France. There will be discussion with French leadership on all the issues, including the situation in the region, Afghanistan’s present situation and impact after the withdrawal of ISAF troops by 2014, he added.  The ambassador said although the main purpose of visit of President Zardari to Paris is to attend special conference on Malala and to establish a fund for raising resources to ensure education to the girls, but the meeting of President Zardari with French leadership will have very positive impact on the Pak-France bilateral relations.  He said the present trade volume between Pakistan and France is US dollars 1.45 billions that include US dollars 950 million of Pakistan’s exports and US dollars 550 million for French exports that indicate trade balance in favour of Pakistan. 

The Ambassador said during the last one year, the trade between the two countries have been increased by 20pc despite energy crisis in Pakistan and hoped that it will be increased manifold in next couple of years. He said when Pakistan will get GSP Plus status in 2014 for its exports to EU member states, then the bilateral trade will also increase and the major beneficiary will be the textile sector of Pakistan. Referring to cooperation in education from France, the ambassador said there are 500 Pakistanis presently completing their Ph.D. Degrees from different French universities.

He said there is strong cooperation between Pakistan and France in defence sectors and a large number of equipment had been purchased by Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy including the most modern Augusta Submarines.

The ambassador said France has also transferred technology to Pakistan in different fields.

He said that leadership of Socialist Party always had very strong support for democracy in Pakistan and even former President Mittrand visited Pakistan during the tenure of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Replying to a question, the ambassador said during the talks with French leadership, the President Zardari will also discuss the aspects of cooperation between the two countries in the field of energy.

Commenting on the importance of Malala conference for education, the ambassador said it was the initiative of Pakistan and the international community acknowledged the idea of Pakistan and extended full support to it. He said the Malala Fund being established on this occasion would ensure more funds for the education of girls not only in Pakistan but also in all other areas, where the females are being denied their basic right of education.

Ambassador Shafqat Saeed that Malala Conference is a success of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and it indicate that Pakistan has full support and cooperation from the international community to promote female education despite the threats from militants and extremists elements.