Embassy of France on Monday hosted a reception to celebrate National Day of France—July 14, 1789—the 230th anniversary of the storming of Bastille fortress located in the centre of Paris whose its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.
This year, July 14 being Sunday, the embassy shifted the celebrations to July 15 and invited a large number of guests including the parliamentarians, members of the armed forces, members of civil society and academia, artists and youths, religious scholars and of course a good number of diplomats.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar was the chief guest on the occasion. In his address as Chief Guest, Khusro Bakhtiar congratulated Ambassador Dr Marc Barety on the auspicious occasion and noted with gratitude that France was among the few countries with which trade balance is in Pakistan’s favour. “We have around US$1.5 billion bilateral trade and out of that Pakistan earns around US$1 billion in exports to France,” said he.
Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with France particularly in the field of industrial and military-to-military cooperation, said Khusro adding the two countries believed in the common values of democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law.
He also noted with pleasure that some Pakistani pharmaceutical companies are setting up their plant in France that show the country’s interest in Pakistan’s industrial sector.
In climate change, security, empowering the poor segments of society, France is assisting Pakistan and we need to learn from the great country’s expertise in these particular fields, he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address Ambassador Marc Barety said the French government has extended invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the second World Peace Forum being held in Paris in November this year.
We know the prime minister is busy with reforms in economy and working for the uplift of the country but it would be a privilege if he could take some time out of his schedule and attend that summit, said the ambassador.
He thanked all those government officials as well as private sector representatives, members of civil society and individuals who contributed in their individual “little” capacity to strengthen bilateral ties.
“Today, we are celebrating the storming of Bastille Fortress some 230 years ago when our people decided to defy abuse of power and raised their voice for “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” [Liberty, Equality and Fraternity] he said.
The ambassador thanked Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar for his keen interest in realizing two agreements that were long pending, namely Faisalabad Water Management and Hydropower project.
The ambassador said Senate of Pakistan had also facilitated two delegations of the French senators earlier this year and even taken them to Gwadar, Balochistan. For that we are thankful to the government and Senate of Pakistan, he said.
The ambassador was full of praise for the vibrant civil society of Pakistan and particularly mentioned Valerie Khan, a French Pakistani national who is working for rights of children and women for the last two decades.
The French envoy also mentioned the French-German cooperation in various fields. “When these two nations can work together despite their bitter past and a number of wars, why not others,” said the ambassador obviously wishing both Pakistan and India to try to find out some common grounds for the sake of peace and prosperity in the region.
Last but not the least, the ambassador mentioned five young artists from Lahore, Zahid Mahmood Mayo, Tayyaba Sabir, Rida Fatima, Hussain Sabir and Rabia Tayyib who changed the otherwise bleak and colourless protective wall of the embassy into a colourful artistic mural.