Fighting terrorism: Pakistan, France to sign strategic partnership treaty

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and France will sign a treaty in May this year to enter into a strategic partnership to counter terrorism.

Intelligence sharing on terrorism and other related issues among the security forces of the two countries will be the part of the treaty, sources told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

“Prime Minster Yousaf Raza Gilani who will be signing the treaty on behalf of Pakistan will also take up the issue of transfer of civilian nuclear technology with President Nicolas Sarkozy during their meeting,” the sources added.

Pakistan will also purchase arms from France for its counter-terrorism efforts; under the agreement France will provide soft loans of 450 million dollars to Pakistan to meet its arms purchase requirements, the source said.

The agreement will pave way for the counter-terrorism training of the French army and police by Pakistani experts in Islamabad.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered to help Pakistan with civilian nuclear technology in talks with his counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, in Paris in May 2009.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, after that meeting in 2009, had described the French offer as being ‘a significant development’ adding that the two countries had agreed in principle’ on the move.

Zardari came away from his meeting at the Elysee Palace with a promise of 12 million euros ($16.2 million) in French aid for civilians fleeing fighting in the northern regions of the country.

During that meeting Zardari had insisted that the Pakistan Army will eventually prevail against the Taliban.

The French president had also reiterated his offer of civilian-nuclear technology when Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had met him a few days after President Zardari’s visit to France.

Sarkozy during his meeting with Kayani had also expressed his country’s desire for a strategic partnership with Pakistan against global terrorism.

The French president told the army chief that Paris would help Pakistan build up capabilities of meeting the challenges it was facing in the war against terrorism.

France had also offered similar technology to India but an accord between the two countries has been delayed. This has been due to a precondition by India which France has so far not accepted; India wants Paris to include a safety clause in the agreement which will make France responsible for any mishap at the facility it supplies. Indian laws enacted after the Bhopal disaster demand that the supplier accept the onus in case of a Bhopal-like disaster.

Pakistan while seeking French civil nuclear technology has not attached any pre-condition to the agreement.

Pakistani and French leaders during their meeting in Paris in May will also discuss economic issues, the source revealed.

A French company has also shown interest in investing over 450 million euros in Pakistan’s dairy industry. Pakistan is currently the sixth largest milk producer in the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.


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