France first non-Muslim nation to establish ties with Pakistan: Envoy

ISLAMABAD    -   French Ambassador Nicolas Galey said France was the first non-Mus­lim country to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

Addressing the members of Board of Management Quaid-e-Azam House, Institute of Nation-Building here on Monday, he said relations between France and Paki­stan were of special significance. 

After the recent increases in ten­sion, the ambassador expressed that opinion was shifting and busi­ness sector should take advantage of these improving relations. A watershed moment showcasing this improvement was the cordial meeting between President Em­manuel Macron and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in New York.

Galey also talked about the aid that France had given to Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods that ravaged Pakistan a few weeks ago. He stated that France was in­terested in tapping into Pakistan’s dairy and milk market. He explained that both France and Pakistan had agriculture dominant economies and Pakistan could reap many benefits from France’s agricultural produc­tion techniques and research. He also mentioned that the French Universi­ties’ would be interested in attracting more Pakistani students to their edu­cational institutions.

Some concrete steps such as a group of five top university repre­sentatives would arrive in Pakistan in early November to scout what Pakistani students need to find it attractive to come to France.

He said that while France was part of European Union and like other states, it also independently follows relationship. He added that it was especially relevant in present times because Pakistan was in discussion with EU representatives about con­tinuing the GSP+ trade agreement. The GSP+, a lucrative agreement that allowed Pakistani businesses to export to any EU country without any tariff charges, between Pakistan and EU would expire in 2023, and its renewal or lack thereof would have a significant impact on EU nations’ ability to help Pakistani business industries to grow. In response to a question on Islamophobia, the Am­bassador replied that xenophobia and racism existed in all countries. Many French representatives ask for specific examples of xenophobia and receive vague answers, he said.

He stated that the unfortunate notion that France is Islamophobic must not be treated as a given fact, that France has the largest minor­ity consists of Muslims and it can­not afford to have such sentiments; however, regarding hijab and other issues, it was a social and cultural matter which shall get resolved.

To another question on Russo-Ukraine conflict and its possible es­calation that Russia being pushed aggressively, by making allies with its neighboring states, he said that the chances of a nuclear showdown were minimal and added that Ukraine was a candidate for EU and not NATO, a fact that Russian forces had been aware of and agreed to. However, Russia had a long history of being ag­gressive against Ukraine and it was Russia that broke the UN peace pact by invading Ukraine. The envoy was welcomed by the Grand Nephew of Quaid e Azam Liaquat Merchant who explained to him about the Museum and formation of Institute of Nation Building at Quaid-e-Azam House Mu­seum. Ikram Sehgal, vice chairman of Quaide Azam House Museum Insti­tute of Nation Building concluded the meeting by expressing his thanks to the Ambassador. The French Consul General Designate Alexis Chahtahtin­sky accompanied the Ambassador, who took round of the Museum af­terwards.

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