ISLAMABAD: The first thing you notice when you tune in to Indian news channels is that they are unanimous in bashing Pakistan. Barring a few exceptions, almost all major news networks lean into this proclivity to depict Pakistan as only good for one thing – terrorism – and therefore part of the ‘axis of evil’.
The media in the neighboring country has been following a certain template since the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi became the prime minister. The aim of Modi’s government policy is to isolate Pakistan globally because it believes the country is responsible for cross-border terrorism as well as uprising in the disputed Kashmir region.
The larger objective, however, of this aggressive approach is to dissuade Pakistan from taking the potential benefits of China’s massive investment, observers believe.
Also the aim of this negative portrayal of Pakistan is to discourage foreign investors from investing in the country as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has generated interests among investors from the world over.
India’s policy of isolating Pakistan may have found space in its media, but in reality it is not getting traction in the world that they would have expected from all of this effort, as official documents, The Express Tribune was given access to, showed that about a dozen companies from a single European country alone have recently decided to venture into Pakistan.
In April, a delegation of the Association of French Entrepreneurs, known as MEDEF, visited Pakistan to explore the possibilities of investment in sectors such as automobile, oil and gas, energy, water management, engineering and microfinance.
MEDEF International acts as a Private Sector Liaison Office for the French Development Agency (AFD), World Bank, the EBRD, the ADP, the IDB and other development banks and international organisations, facilitating access to bilateral and multilateral financing for its members.
A 22-member delegation of the MEDEF that included senior executives of leading French companies after visiting Islamabad expressed their interests in investing in various sectors.
The minutes of the meeting and discussions held between the French delegation and Pakistani interlocutors revealed that at least nine top companies decided to do business in the country.
In the fields of automobiles, French manufacture Renault, that had been facing problems with Gandhara Motors, is now contemplating to build its own manufacturing facility at the Port Qasim.
Renault is a multinational automobile manufacturer that was established in 1899 and known for producing a range of cars and vans.
Crédit Agricole, one of the largest French banks, has upgraded Pakistan’s Rish Model by two levels that would result in lowering the cost of doing business in Pakistan.
“It has also approved, in principle, a financing loan for an LNG floating terminal at Karachi. The bank’s subsidiary, Crédit Agricole Grameen, also intends to undertake microfinancing projects for Small and Medium Enterprises in Pakistan,” reveal the minutes of the meeting.
Suez Group, a world leader in water and waste management, is keen to enter into an agreement with the government of Sindh for improved water supply to Karachi.
Pakistan’s ambassador in Paris handed over details of the two projects, received from the Sindh Board of Investment for the supply of water and management of waste in Karachi for consideration and possible investment by the company.
Similarly, the French global energy player, Engie, was awaiting response from the Pakistani side for the supply of LNG through a government-to-government contract. The draft agreement, received from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources for the supply of LNG, has already been forwarded to the mission in Paris for further transmission to the French side.
The French Institute of Petroleum and Energy had trained Pakistani students in petroleum in the 1960s. It has expressed willingness to re-establish its cooperative links with Pakistan.
Axen, a petrochemicals and natural gas company, has expressed willingness to expand its presence in Pakistan in view of the burgeoning oil and gas market in the country.
A leading French airport engineering and design company, ADP Ingénierie, which is already associated with the new Islamabad airport, has showed interest in Gwadar, DI Khan and Muzaffarabad airport projects.
Meteo France International is keen on concluding a MoU with the Metrological Department for cooperation in the field of metrology.
Also, the French Agency for Development has approved a financing amounting to $100 million to reform the sustainable energy sector in Pakistan.
The agency is also in the process of formulating its new five-year strategy for Pakistan, which would be aimed at further enhancing its engagements, including water management and urbanisation.
A senior foreign ministry official, who is familiar with the development, claimed that the interests of multinational companies showed that India’s policy of isolating Pakistan had failed.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said: “Even the allies of India are not toeing its line on Pakistan.”