Economic links Pak-France
SINCE its beginnings, Franco-Pakistani relations have been warm and cordial. The two countries established diplomatic relations soon after Pakistan’s independence.
France was one of the first non-Muslim states to recognize Pakistan, opening its mission a few months after Pakistan’s creation.
The first French Ambassador to Pakistan presents his credentials in April 1948. Messages of goodwill are exchanged between the leaders of the two countries, the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, honoring France.
He addressed the first French Ambassador to Pakistan in these terms: “The magnificent history of your great country and its achievements are well known to the world.
Like other nations, we in Pakistan have admired the great principles of democracy that are the basis of your great state.
The cry of liberty, fraternity and equality launched during your great revolution and officially adopted by your great Republic has had repercussions throughout the world, as any student of history knows.
These ideals and principles still nourish the hopes of many oppressed nations.
France considered Pakistan a “State worthy of attention”. It was a major foreign supplier to the Pakistan Armed Forces. France had been an important partner in the early 1960s, especially for the PAF and the Navy.
We actually remember that France delivered the first batch of Mirage jets along with the underwater technology to Pakistan.
From 1967 to the 2000s, the Pakistani Air Force was France’s top customer, purchasing a large number of fighter and commercial aircraft.
In early 1990, the PAF purchased a batch of used Mirage fighters, followed by the signing of a contract for 40 combat aircraft.
The French Navy also has a long-standing defense relationship with France, which is best known for its purchase of the Daphne class and the Agosto class submarine technology transfer which was signed in 1994.
Pakistan has always wanted the same degree of cooperation in non-military areas as France.
The Pakistani government aimed to produce a draft roadmap aimed at renewing and strengthening bilateral relations between Pakistan and France in all areas, including politics, economy, education, culture, science and technology and the fight against terrorism.
For friendly relations, there should be a real strategic plan to team up with Pakistan and support initiatives for increased science and technology cooperation, especially in the areas of environment, climate change, green technologies, trade information and communication, digitization of economies, finance, technology and agriculture, engineering, medical sciences, humanities, social sciences and management sciences.
To pursue development assistance within the framework of sustainability, Pakistan should be encouraged to follow EU best practices and concepts.
Recognize specific programs by having signed the required agreements between academic institutions, higher education institutions and industries of the two countries.
Strengthen and formalize links between academic and research institutions, universities and think tanks, provide scholarships and faculty and student exchange programs, and develop technical and vocational training capacity building, training of trainers and expertise to improve the quality of technical and vocational centers, quality assessment, exploration of future possibilities.
Post-doctoral training for Pakistani professors and researchers will encourage the growth of short-term visits to partner country institutions via a doctorate. and post-docs studying in Pakistani or French institutions to work on research programs.
Strengthen and advance linguistic and cultural ties, including joint festivals, cultural weeks, education weeks and the exchange of musicians, artists, cultural groups and entrepreneurs from the music industry fashion, as well as motivating Pakistani cultural professionals to travel to France for programs organized by both the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry of Culture, and supporting young designers and emerging artists in Pakistan.
Without forgetting the historical role of France in the preservation of Pakistani heritage (including Mohenjo-Daro and the old town of Lahore).
Thus, the cooperation between the two parties would encourage missions of institutions of the two nations aimed at further developing cooperation in these cultural fields.
These days, the two nations strive to strengthen people-to-people relations. A big step forward was on September 3, 2022 the arrival of a French plane carrying relief supplies, including medicine and high-tech dewatering pumps, with a team of doctors and experts for those affected by floods in Pakistan.
This extended support for flood relief in this difficult hour is appreciated and paved the way for Pakistan and France to rekindle their old relationship.
—The author is a columnist based in Islamabad.