New Developments in Pakistan-France Cooperation

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After Shahbaz Sharif became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Islamabad administration started to accelerate its relations with the Western World. In this context, France is one of the countries where ties have been strengthened. Indeed, Paris is also known to be interested in Asian geography. Therefore, France is interested in developing relations with Pakistan.

The 14th round of Pakistan-France bilateral political consultations was held in Paris on February 10, 2023. Pakistan was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Asad Majeed Khan, while the French delegation was led by Anne-Marie Descôtes, Secretary General of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. On the way to deepen their ties, the sides signed a “Bilateral Cooperation Roadmap.” They also agreed to enhance cooperation in energy, IT, agriculture and livestock, tourism, and other sectors. They also had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral, regional and international issues. [1]

There has been a recent development in the Paris-Islamabad partnership. The two sides have been getting closer not only through political consultations but also through economic activities. International initiatives also play an essential role in the rapprochement of the two countries. The September 20, 2023, meeting between the leaders of the two countries on the sidelines of the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) is a case in point. The joint statement issued after the meeting can also be interpreted as an indicator of the development of France-Pakistan relations. [2]

During the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron and Sharif agreed to work together to revitalize Pakistan’s economy. The Sharif-Macron meeting has a special significance in terms of Pakistan’s foreign policy steps as well as giving momentum to bilateral relations. It was the first time in seven years that the Prime Minister of Pakistan met with the leader of a strategic European country. [3]

One element that has increased the closeness between the two sides is humanitarian aid. For example, France has supported Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods by pledging large amounts of humanitarian aid. On January 9, 2023, at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan held in Geneva in partnership with the Government of Pakistan and the UN, the French Development Agency announced projects worth up to 386.5 million dollars to rebuild Pakistan. [4]

The foundations for this conference were laid during the Macron-Sharif meeting. Therefore, it can be said that the consultations between the two countries have opened new doors. Therefore, the signed “Road Map” can be expected to pave the way for new beginnings. In this sense, it is possible to predict that the positive relationship dynamic that has been on the rise on the Paris-Islamabad line will continue to develop. Indeed, it has been decided that the 15th round of political consultations will be held in Islamabad in 2024. [5]  This means a year of strengthening partnerships and preparing for the next meeting. At the same time, it is also seen that the meetings have become a routine.

In the context of the shift in international attention towards Asia, Paris’ policy steps have also diversified and evolved. In this sense, the ties with Islamabad are also related to the current conjuncture. In other words, the Pakistani government’s relations with the United States of America (USA) and its policy towards the Western World also influence the developments. On the one hand, France’s actions can also be considered within the framework of the policies of the European Union and European countries. In this sense, it can be claimed that Paris is trying to assert itself.

On the other hand, France-Pakistan relations can also be considered in the context of Paris’ Asia-Pacific policy. France has a significant presence in the region. France has seven overseas territories. It is also known that more than one million French citizens are in the region. [6]  In this sense, developing relations and strengthening partnerships with Pakistan can be read as one of the sub-strategies of the Indo-Pacific strategy. Pakistan is also an important strategic point for the security of overseas territories and access to the region. Islands like Mayotte and La Reunion off Mozambique are geographically close to Pakistan. Focusing on improving the existing defense and military cooperation with Pakistan can also be considered in this context.

Another aspect of military cooperation is the aim to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Currently, Pakistan is going through a challenging period in terms of security and stability. The terrorist organization Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has increased its attacks across the country. At this point, it is known that the US has frequently voiced its verbal support to Islamabad against the TTP terrorist organization. It can be said that France also reflects the attitude of Western actors. Therefore, Islamabad may want to develop security-based cooperation steps with Paris.

All in all, relations between France and Pakistan have a positive momentum. Political consultation meetings are also effective in strengthening partnerships in various fields. France’s position as an important European actor, the importance of Pakistan in Paris’s strategic goals for Asia-Pacific geopolitics, and Islamabad’s desire to strengthen its ties with the Western World are all influential in the development of Paris-Islamabad relations.

[1] “Pakistan, France Sign ‘Roadmap’ for Deepening Ties”, Tribune,, (Date of Accession: 13.02.2023).

[2] “PM Shehbaz Meets President Macron, Other Leaders as UNGA Opens”, Pakistan Today,, (Date of Accession: 13.02.2023).

[3] “France to Help Pakistan ‘Revive’ Economy”, Tribune,, (Date of Accession: 13.02.2023).

[4] “France’s Macron Pledges $10.7M in Humanitarian Aid for Pakistan”, Anadolu Agency,, (Date of Accession: 11.02.2023).

[5] “14th Round of Pakistan-France Bilateral Political Consultations Held in Paris”, MOFA,, (Date of Accession: 13.02.2023).

[6] “The Indo-Pacific Region: A Priority for France”, France Diplomacy,, (Date of Accession: 13.02.2023).

Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.