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France extends relief for flood victims

Like rest of the world, a French aircraft carrying relief goods for the flood affected people of Pakistan arrived in Islamabad on Saturday.

At President Emmanuel Macron’s request, France has putting together an extraordinary operation to provide emergency relief to the people of Pakistan who have been affected by the severe floods ravaging their country.

The relief goods sent by France also include medicines and 80 big dewatering pumps high technology for evacuating 3000 liters/minute. France has also sent a team of seven doctors and experts who will be deputed in a military hospital as chosen by Pakistani authorities. French ambassador to Pakistan Nicolas Galey also accompanied the relief plane.

After the plane France has also announced to send by cargo a 50m Bridge Bailey.

From its inception, Franco-Pakistan relations have been warm and cordial; both countries had diplomatic ties shortly after Pakistan’s independence. France was one of the first non-Muslim states to recognize Pakistan, opening its embassy a few months after Pakistani independence. We remember that the first French ambassador to Pakistan presented his credentials in April 1948. Goodwill messages were exchanged between the leaders of the two countries, with Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, honoring France.

He addressed the first French ambassador to Pakistan that “The magnificent history of your great country and its achievements are well-known to the world. In common with other nations, we in Pakistan have admired the high principles of democracy that form the basis of your great state. The cry of liberty, fraternity, and equality which was raised during your great revolution and officially adopted by your great Republic had its repercussions throughout the world, as is known to every student of history. These ideals and these principles are still keeping up the hopes of many downtrodden nations.”

France considered Pakistan a “state deserving of attention”. It was a major foreign supplier to the Pakistan Armed Forces. France had been an important partner in the early 1960s, particularly for the PAF and the Navy. We actually remember France delivering the first batch of Mirage jets as well as submarine technology to Pakistan. From 1967 to the 2000s, the Pakistan Air Force was France’s greatest customer, purchasing a large number of fighter and commercial aircraft. In early 1990, the PAF bought a batch of the used Mirage fighters, followed by the signing of a contract for 40 fighter aircraft. The Navy also has a long-standing defense relationship with France, which is best recognized for its purchase of the Daphne class and the submarine technology transfer of the Agosto class which was signed in 1994.

Pakistan always desired the same degree of cooperation in non-military domains as France. The Pakistani government aimed to produce a draft roadmap aimed at renewing and strengthening Pakistan-France bilateral ties in all domains, including politics, economics, education, culture, science and technology, and counter-terrorism. For friendly relations, there ought to be a proper strategic plan to team up with Pakistan and support initiatives for increased scientific and technological cooperation, particularly in the fields of environment, climate change, green technologies, information and communication commerce, digitalization of economies, Financial technology, and agriculture, engineering, medical sciences, humanities, social sciences, and management sciences.

To continue development assistance in connection with Sustainability, Pakistan must be recognised and encouraged to follow the EU’s best practices and concepts. Recognize specific programs by having signed required agreements between academic institutions, higher education institutions, and industries in both countries. Boosting and formalizing links between academic and research institutions, universities, and think tanks, offering scholarships and programs of faculty and student exchange, and developing technical and vocational training capacity building, training of trainers, and expertise to raise the quality of technical and vocational Centers, quality assessment, exploring future possibilities.

Following post-doctoral training for Pakistani professors and researchers will encourage the growth of short-term visits to partner country institutions via Ph.D. and post-doc scholars studying in Pakistani or French institutions to work on research programs. To strengthen and advance linguistic and cultural ties, including via joint festivals, cultural weeks, education weeks, and the exchange of musicians, artists, cultural groups, and fashion industry entrepreneurs, as well as to motivate Pakistani culture professionals to visit France for programs run by both the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry of Culture, and to support young emerging creators and artists in Pakistan. Not to forget the long-standing role of France in the preservation and valorization of Pakistani heritage (including Mohenjo-Daro and the Old City of Lahore). Thus, the cooperation between the two parties would encourage missions of institutions from both nations aimed at further developing cooperation in these cultural domains.

These days, both nations are working to strengthen people-to-people relations and the arrival of a French aircraft carrying relief goods including medicine and high-technology dewatering pumps with a team of doctors and experts for the flood-affected people of Pakistan. This extended support for flood relief in this difficult hour is valued and paved the way for Pakistan and France to warm up our old and profound relationship.

The author is a political analyst based in Islamabad.

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