ISLAMABAD-France is one of the world’s oldest nation states. It has great influence in global politics and is heading toward prosperity through rich culture, political stability, thriving economy and excellent nuclear technology. It has become the 5th largest economy of the world and is playing a key role in Europe’s economy as being the most important agricultural producer.

French National Day is the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 which gave impetus to the French Revolution. The ambassador of France Marc Barety hosted a well-attended reception to celebrate the national day of his country at a local hotel in Islamabad.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Khusro Bakhtiar was the chief guest while Air Marshal Aasim Zaheer, vice chief of the air staff, Dr Ishrat Hussain , Najeeb khaqan , Dr jahanzaib Khan, Sarwar Khan, Senator Anwar Baig, Balig ur Rehman, Khurram Dastgir, Anwar Saifullah, Senator Usman Saif Ullah, Fakhar Imam, Additional Foreign Secretary Ejaz, former joint of chief army staff Gen (R) Ahsan Ul Haq , Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Senator Shireen Rehman and Mushahid Hussain Syed were among the prominent guests.

The guests exchanged their views on various issues on the occasion. One of the participants said that France was committed to work with several other states to create a European Army to share in procurement, command and operations. He further said that Trump’s past threats to quit NATO had given the European army project a boost. While commenting on the economic crisis of Pakistan, one of guests said that government was keen to start impartial accountability that will recover the money lost in the wake of black market, money laundering and corruption. This will enhance tax net and generate more revenue. One Pakistani participant appreciated former French ambassador to Pakistan Martin Durance’s efforts in promoting people to people contact. Serena Hotel this time made special arrangement to make the French event successful. Quality food was served.

Khusro Bakhtiar is a dynamic minister who has vast experience of foreign affairs as he has served in foreign affairs from September 2004 to November 2007. He appreciated the efforts of French people for global unity, equality and fertility. He said that Pakistan-French relations were decades old.

He mentioned few names of former Pakistani ambassadors who served in Paris, former first lady and diplomat Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan and Sahibzada Yaqoob Ali Khan, who contributed a lot for this historical friendship. He said that we have robust institutional framework under which political consultation and joint economic and cultural development have been done and recently we are upgrading our economic trade linkages. This is a reflection that Pak-France ties are becoming stronger. He mentioned that our bilateral trade is $1.5 billion. He acknowledged efforts of Marc Barety to further strengthening the ties. Pakistan and France are working for the promotion of economic cooperation, he said.

Marc Barety made a speech in which he said that every year the union of the French nation is reaffirmed by the celebration of the National Day , commemorating both July 14, 1789, a turning point in the history of the people of France for the conquest of its emancipation and of freedom, and the festival of the Federation in 1790.

He said that Pakistan and France had strong bond of friendship. We are cooperating in many fields and in future we will promote our ties to new height. He further added that we shared same views on global issues. He added that we are holding a 7th World Peace Forum to address and resolve global problems in November and Prime minister Imran Khan will also participate in it.

Horticulture, he said, is a strong field which needs further consideration. He said that he visited Lahore Agriculture University to explore possibilities of co-operation in that field. He said that Germany and France were enemy in past but now Franco-German cooperation was dynamic and exemplary. Pakistan and India should also work to develop Co-operation in various fields like we did, he said.

Pakistan and France friendship is deep rooted in the history even before the creation of Pakistan. French defence advisor supported Sultan Tipu Shaheed and Raja Ranjeet Singh and other areas where there were resistance against British Colonization. During 1856 War of Independence, the French support to the locals was also the part of history. For the last many decades, the French government has supported Pakistan to build strong Air force and navy by providing Mirage aircraft and Agosta submarine but unfortunately after 9/11, there is a shift in French policy. I believe the French ambassador is conscious of this fact and he proposed peace initiative between India and Pakistan as they did with Germany.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.