Islamabad - Ambassador of France Martine Dorance hosted a grand reception to mark the national day of her country here at a local hotel.

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan was the chief guest. The reception was very well organised and was attended by the diplomats and Pakistani elite.

The French ambassador was receiving the guests at the entrance with a very special smile. She was wearing white coat and black shirt which made her very prominent and sobre. Pakistan’s membership in SCO (Shanghai Cooperation organization), Iran nuclear deal and Nawaz Shareef-Modi meeting in Russia were the main topics of discussion among the participants.

New Ambassador of Brazil Claudio Lins was attending the first diplomatic reception in Islamabad as he told that he arrived in Islamabad three days ago. Claudio Lins is a career diplomat and this is his first posting as an ambassador. He was the head of Asian and Pakistani department in the foreign office before coming to Pakistan.

Ambassador of Greece Dimitrios Zoitos was happy over the bailout package by the European Union. He was appreciating French role during the whole financial crisis of Greece and said that Greece and France had a very close relation due to the socialist parties in the past. He was of the opinion that Finland was very tough towards Greece during the crisis.

French Counsellor for Political Press Nathalie Dupont was very active at the reception in looking after the guests. She was the moving spirit behind all activities at the reception.

The French ambassador made a speech and surprised the audience by starting her speech in Urdu. She spoke a few sentences in Urdu in which she thanked the guests and congratulated them over Ramazan. The audience was clapping on every sentence of French ambassador which was in Urdu language. She thanked everyone for taking time to join her in celebration that is of great significance to her, as it was her first 14th July since her appointment as ambassador of France to Pakistan in last October.

She expressed her gratitude to the Pakistani authorities and friends for their warm welcome since she arrived. She expressed her commitment to spare no effort for enhancing the dialogue, cooperation and friendship between two countries.

She further said that today the world faces immense changes and challenges in the fields of security, terrorism, economy, immigration and many more. France and Pakistan are determined to tackle them side by side. While talking about trade and economical relations she said the trade between the two countries is bound to boom as there is more room for Pakistani products in France and there are great opportunities for French companies here in Pakistan.

While appreciating the presence of commerce minister at the reception she hoped that the commerce minister will play a vital role to promote the trade and economic relations between Pakistan and France. She further pointed out that climate change is another threat to the world and France will host a major conference in December in Paris on this issue. The contribution of Pakistan, which is one of the most affected countries in the world by climate change, is awaited.

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan while speaking on the reception congratulated the ambassador and the French government on behalf of the Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef. He said that Pakistan and France are two democratic countries and both have worked together for the democratic institution in the world. “We will continue to further develop our relations in different fields like trade, economy and culture,” he said. He said that Pakistan and France are also fighting against terrorism to make the world better and peaceful.

Pakistan and France always have very cordial and friendly relations as the latter helped Pakistan in achieving defence capability when Pakistan was under sanctions by the US administration.

Pakistani Air Force was equipped by French Mirage and Pakistan Navy by the French submarine. This historical defence cooperation has not been continued by the successive governments in Pakistan and France. The wave of terrorism in Pakistan has greatly damaged the cooperation between France and Pakistan. The terrorist attack on French personnel in Karachi was the great setback in the cooperation between the two countries.

The French mission historically was very active in Islamabad but it has not been active to that extent for the last seven years after the growing incidents of terrorism in Pakistan and even French cultural centres were closed down. It appears that the new ambassador Martine Dorance is a new hope to open the new door and even the door which was closed during the rise of terrorism in Pakistan.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.