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Interview with Mr. Pierre Seillan - Consul General of France

Q You have taken over the as the new Consul General of France in Karachi. Our members would like to know a bit more about you. Which countries were you posted earlier & have you always been a career diplomat?
A My last posting was in Australia where I served two and a half years. it's difficult to compare "Down Under" with Pakistan. Both have their special advantages and sometimes inconveniences. I volunteered to come to Karachi and thoroughly enjoy the Karachiite way of life. Here nothing is taken for granted and "monotony" is not one of my first words in Urdu.

Earlier on, I spent twenty years in the French Navy. During my
naval carrier, I had the honour of commanding two French navy ships and had two tenures as naval attaché in Beijing and Singapore.

Pakistan today is one more milestone in my round the clock discovery of Asia and a good opportunity to acquire better understanding of the Sub-continent.

Q You volunteered for a post in Karachi! That is rather unusual as some diplomats consider Karachi a "hard post" As the new Consul General, what are the main challenges and opportunities facing you?

A Being partial to changing situations, I would not wish to lead a life solely rhythmed by habits. Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular offer this opportunity.

The main challenges are to maintain a visible and expected presence of France and if possible to enhance this profile, the joint university project with the HEC is an example. I am convinced that Pakistan needs more French co-operation and my principal aim is to find the ways and means to enlarge it. It is evident that this will facilitate the mutual understanding of the two countries and help their economies.

Q Many people in Pakistan view all Western countries as a monolithic & uniform block. However in these days of unilateral action France is a leader for the concept of a multi-polar world and a balanced viewpoint. How can this uniquely French viewpoint be promoted in Pakistan?

A Fortunately, the multilateral approach, which France is striving to promote, is shared by numerous countries.

Concerning Pakistan, France maintains very balanced and sustained political and economic relations. We regularly exchange views on subjects as important as the Iraq crisis, negotiations with Iran, the recent conflict in Lebanon. This reminds us that, collective action and cohesion of the international community must prevail. No state is capable, on its own, of facing the challenge of international security. No unilateral effort can hope to have sufficient legitimacy. Efficiency and legitimacy should not be opposed, on the contrary, its the reason for which the action of the Security Council should be the core consideration for tackling international crises.

Q Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular has real problems with lawlessness & violence. However there are many other countries - for example in South America & Africa whose problems are even more acute. However in the European media including the French press Pakistan seems to be singled out. Why is that & how can this perception be countered?

A. As you have pertinently mentioned, violence and absence of respect for laws are not exclusive to Pakistan, a lot of countries are afflicted with this phenomenon. However the war against terrorism has often led to organizations or individuals linked with this country. The press, which relishes these anomalies, amplifies the negative image which these individuals give to Pakistan.

How to rectify this distorted perception? In my opinion, it is imperative that the political action rediscovers all its nobility and virtues by shunning violence and by scrupulously respecting law and by totally eschewing terrorism. Permission to move freely for foreign journalists, a lot of whom desire to come and know more about Pakistan and witness its richness would also help.

Q France is a leader in water, sanitation, transport & telecommunication sectors. How can you encourage French companies to become involved in infrastructure projects in Karachi?

A It is a constant preoccupation of our embassy in Islamabad and of the consulate in Karachi. We disseminate information and expressions of interest to French companies in order to whet their interest. We organize seminars about targeted subjects. We also organize visits to French companies in France having the expertise useful to Pakistan. After that its the free markets and its mechanism which comes into play.

Q Pakistan France Business Alliance is an important Franco-Pakistani representative forum consisting of about 100 companies. How can we utilize this platform to promote further economic and commercial links between Pakistan and France?

A. This platform should enable members to have easy and quick access to information concerning all the big sectors of economy such as textile, heavy industry, pharmaceutical products, agro food as well as flourishing sectors, new technologies, environment etc. It must also Facilitate the implantation of new French enterprises desirous of entering the Pakistani market and doing business here.

It must finally cultivate privileged relationships, through the French Economic Mission, with French chambers of commerce performing similar functions as the PFBA.

Q You are the French Consul General in Karachi & have close links with the PFBA Karachi branch. Is there any special message that you like to convey to our members?

A. My message to the Pakistan France Business Alliance Karachi chapter is as follows: everything, which allows improving our bilateral economic relations, is the crux of my mission. Consequently, all your suggestions to achieve this goal are welcome and will merit my fullest attention and support. On my part, I will do my utmost to follow this guideline.

(Interview by Sameer Hamid Dodhy - Member PFBA Executive Committee)