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July 16, 2018

French National Day celebrated


July 16, 2018

Islamabad : To celebrate the National Day of the Republic of France, Ambassador Marc Barety hosted a reception at the Serena Hotel which was attended by envoys and other diplomats who have not left for summer vacations; political entities not on the campaign trail and Pakistanis from different walks of life. The guest of honour was Caretaker minister, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar.

Before his address to the gathering, Ambassador Barety thoughtfully requested a minutes silence to pay respect to those who were martyred in the recent acts of terrorism, after which he spoke about a number of issues – the growing number of threats to world peace; how unity is a major factor of strength and was important to counter these threats; that unity was also a ‘must’ in the European Union and he was happy that in spite of the turmoil, member states have chosen to move forward to make it stronger and more protective of its citizens. “We have learnt two lessons – that governments cannot act efficiently in isolation and the West cannot cope alone and for this reason representatives of different organizations like NGO’s etc. will be invited to the Paris Forum for Peace to be held from November 11th to 13th he said.

On bilateral relations he voiced the opinion that he was not quite happy with the level of interaction in various field and there was ‘space’ for improvement in investment; trade and more contacts, he concluded by thanking the sponsors of the reception and the various French organizations working on a daily basis to enhance the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and France. His words, “Vive le Pakistan; Vive le France and Vive le amitie Franco-Pakistanaise” were echoed by quite a number of guests, both Pakistani and French.

In his response the chief guest told of how he had missed the opportunity to learn French forty years ago; narrated a few facts of history as to why Pakistan and France had a special relationship; reiterated that Pakistan also believes in the French motto of Unity and concluded by saying there was no question of who the Pakistanis would be rooting for during the final of the FIFA World Cup on Sunday!

At the end of the formal ceremony it became clear why nearly half a dozen young Pakistanis were also on the stage reserved for the VIP’s! They were students of the National College of Arts who had won prizes in a recently held exhibition at the French embassy. Stating that the work was impressive and needed to be praised – while also acknowledging the role the principal of the college and its teachers had to play in their work – he, along with the chief guest handed over certificates to the students. A memorable occasion for them, I’m sure.

Dinner was served with French and Pakistani specialties. The hall was abuzz with conversation about elections and the world cup but the celebration was somewhat subdued because of the recent tragic acts of terrorism.

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