ISLAMABAD - The Bastille Day on 14th of July is the French symbol of end of monarchy and beginning of the French revolution. French Ambassador Martine Dorance hosted a reception at local hotel to celebrate the French National Day on Saturday.

The atmosphere was hassle-free than it usually is at other receptions, and guests appeared to be enjoying the time talking to their friends.

Back in the days, French National Day reception used to be one of the best diplomatic receptions, but an unfortunate incident changed things in 2002 when French Submarines Engineers came under terrorist attack and left an unwanted scar on the tradition of Bastille Day celebrations in Pakistan.

It was French Ambassador Martine Dorance who started a new phase of cordial relations between Pakistan and France.

She undoubtedly played a significant role to bring these relations back on the track; equitable and moving in the right direction. Dorance exercised her full potential to strengthen the economic diplomacy.

On behalf of Pakistani government, Chief Guest Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Commerce, addressed the guests on the Franco-Pakistani relations.

He emphasised on the long-term friendship between France and Pakistan and the great potential for increasing economic and commercial relations.

It is the time for Pakistan to focus on the economic diplomacy and all the foreign missions of Pakistan should focus on economic diplomacy. The export of Pakistan has been declined from $25 billion in 2013 to $19 billion in 2017, which is a serious setback not only for Pakistan’s economy but also for the future of Pakistan, as no country can survive without sufficient exports. Recently, despite increase in growth rate, trade deficit of Pakistan has increased up to $30 billion.

Former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew were engaged in lengthy discussion and were sitting next to each other on the stage. Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Anusha Rehman, Gen (Retd) Ehsan- ul-Haq, Marvi Memon , Gen (Retd) Abdul Qayyum , Khalid Iqbal Malik were also sitting on the stage.

Martine Dorance announced that she has completed three-year tenure in Pakistan and would be leaving soon for the new assignment and many of her friends were surprised by the announcement, as she is the colour and charm of the diplomatic receptions with a great wisdom and intuition. Her absence from the diplomatic life of Islamabad would hardly be filled again as no one can possess all qualities together.

During French Ambassador’s speech, there was complete silence in the hall which is hardly seen in the diplomatic receptions. The charisma of her influential personality and persuasive content of her speech made everyone attentive to her speech.

On the occasion of the National Day of France, she pointed out towards the starting point of the French Revolution which was the storming of the Bastille Jail on July 14th in 1789. The day, since then, has been celebrated as French National Day every year.

She further added that their national motto was ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’ and the world, today, is in dire need of these civilized values. French people have reaffirmed their faith in these values by electing President Emmanuel Macron on May 7 this year.

The heinous acts of terrorism in France and Pakistan were also highlighted in her speech. She stressed upon the fact that France recognised the sacrifices of Pakistan in its war against terrorism as the Islamic Republic has suffered a lot in these endeavours. France was also hit by terror attacks last year and both share the pain inflicted by terrorism, she added.

She further said that the two countries have been enjoying close bilateral ties in all fields for seven decades. Pakistan is turning 70 years old this year and it is also going to be the 70th anniversary of the establishment of its diplomatic relations with France. She further added that these relations had grown even stronger in the past three years.

She pointed towards climate change that is one of the biggest issues in the world today. She assured that France was committed to support Government strategy to fight climate change and to solve the energy crisis in Pakistan. The bilateral trade has again exceeded the symbolic threshold of one billion dollars and she believed in the reinforcement of sustainable economic ties. She congratulated Pakistan on its victory in ICC Cricket Champions Trophy and appreciated the unity of entire Pakistani nation.

She also mentioned that the government of France and the people are united behind Paris in its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games and hoped that Pakistan will share this enthusiasm and support this strong bid.

At the end, she mentioned that during her three-year stay in Pakistan, she was immensely pleased by the hospitality of Pakistani People and conveyed best wishes on behalf of French people.

Federal Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir in his speech appreciated three-year tenure of French Ambassador. While addressing he said that Ms Dorance has improved the bilateral ties between two countries in multiple spheres. He further commended the efforts of the French Ambassador and talked about the good bilateral relations that exist between Pakistan and France.

The economic cooperation is satisfactory between both countries and hoped to have more growing economic ties in coming days, he said.

–The writer is a freelancer