PARIS: Tens of thousands of “yellow vest” protesters marched across France on Saturday, three months since the movement began, and in a week that has seen growing international concern at police treatment of the protesters.
Demonstrating for the 14th consecutive weekend, 41,500 people turned out across the country, according to the interior ministry, well down on the 282,000 peak during the protests’ early weeks. A ministry statement said 5,000 people protested in Paris but march organizers put the numbers far higher. “We are 15,000, that means the movement is increasing,” Jerome Rodrigues, one of the movement’s better-known figures, told AFP at the Paris march. Rodrigues, along with three other people, is suing the police after being struck in the eye by a projectile he says was fired from a police Defensive Ball Launcher (LBD).
On Thursday, deputies in the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the disproportionate use of force against protesters, after a debate about the use of the controversial weapon by French police. The same day, a group of UN experts condemned what they said was the disproportionate use of force by police in response to violent demonstrators. During Saturday’s protest, a group on the fringe of the Paris march shouted anti-semitic insults at a leading French intellectual, according to videos on social networks. The abuse, directed at philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, 69, led to an outcry with French President Emmanuel Macron condemning the incident. Macron called it “the absolute negation of what we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate it”. Video footage from a freelance journalist showed police taking action to protect Finkielkraut.
The philosopher told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that he would have feared for his safety had the police not intervened, while adding that not all of the demonstrators had been hostile. During the course of the protests, people marched down the Champs-Elysees and crossed the river Seine to Paris’s up-market Left Bank district, shouting anti-police slogans. Marion, a nurse marching in Paris, told Media that Macron’s “great national debate” – a series of town hall meetings launched in January to try to address the grievances of the yellow vest movement – was nothing but a distraction.”We don’t believe in it, we won’t take part in it,” she said. But a poll of 1,001 people published by Elabe on Wednesday suggested for the first time that most people (56 percent) would like the protests to end, even if a majority (58 percent) still support what the movement stands for.
Financing facility for special persons
KARACHI: SBP has issued a concessionary small enterprise financing and credit guarantee facility for the special persons.
SBP Governor announced this special facility in the 7th meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs held at State Bank Building here on Tuesday. Members of the Standing Committee and senior executives of State Bank were present on the occasion, said a SBP statement.
“Realizing the vulnerability of persons with disabilities in the country and cost associated with their exclusion for the economy, SBP in-line with its priority sector development has devised a scheme for special persons”, said Tariq Bajwa.
This financing facility is expected to improve access to finance for special persons falling under small enterprises category at a concessional rate of 5% per annum. Under the scheme, banks and DFIs will provide financing facilities to special persons for establishing new business enterprises or for expansion of existing businesses.
State Bank of Pakistan will provide refinance to banks/ DFIs up to 100 percent of finance extended by them. Special persons can avail financing up to Rs 1.5 million for a maximum period of 5 years including a grace period of six months.
SBP will also provide risk coverage of 60 percent to banks/DFIs on their outstanding loans under the scheme. This financing facility has been issued with the main objective of improving the socio-economic life of special persons in Pakistan.
Promoting religious tourism in Pakistan!
ISLAMABAD: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Director General for South Asia and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal Tuesday said the government was making all-out efforts to promote tourism sector, especially religious one in the country.
Speaking at a seminar “Heritage Diplomacy; A Gadget for Religious Peace, organized by Regional Rapport here at National Library, He said Pakistan had many sacred religious sites and these sites had potential to attract foreign tourists.
He said Pakistan always welcomed religious tourism and facilitated foreign visitors. Since coming into power, the present government was making efforts to promote tourism, especially religious tourism of Pakistan, he added. To realize the potential of tourism, the government had taken a number of steps including liberalization of the visa regime and developing tourism infrastructure.
He said the opening of Kartarpur Corridor was the single most important milestone, unprecedented in the history of South Asia.
He expressed the hope that this project would materialize soon and pilgrims from across the border would be able to visit the holy site. “We must learn to coexist and cherish diversity,” he added.
Various governments had undertaken a number of steps whereby heritage diplomacy and culture had been promoted, he said and added in 2018, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting had announced the first ever film and culture policy of the country.
Under the policy, the focus had been shifted to building cultural infrastructure in the country, promotion of visual and performing arts, promotion of music and other arts, development and preservation of book and culture as well as archeological places, he added.
Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Director General Jamal Shah, in his presentation, highlighted the importance of cultural heritage in the country.
He said cultural heritage creates awareness and plays a crucial role in the promotion of peace.
Center for Culture and Development Executive Director Dr. Nadeem Omer, in his paper titled “Heritage as Soft Power”, highlighted various aspects of the heritage.
He appreciated the organizer of the event, saying that such events would create awareness for understanding the importance of cultural heritage.
Folklorist, Scholar, and Founder of Lok Virsa Dr. Uxi Mufti, in his paper, highlighted the intangible heritage in a modern perspective.
He said intangible heritage should be preserved and promoted to achieve the benefits of rich heritage.
Earlier, Regional Rapport Executive Director Almas Haider Naqvi welcomed the guests in the programme.
Chairman of Industries Research Cell Rauf Azad Kakepoto and a large number of people from different walks of life also attended the event.
‘Look Africa Campaign’ to augment trade with Africa!
ISLAMABAD: The Trade Development Authority has initiated ‘Look Africa Campaign ‘for increasing trade and investment ties with the African region.
“Look Africa Campaign” would play a pivotal role for bridging the trade gap between Pakistan and African region and provide a platform for enhancing the contact between the business communities of both sides, a senior official of TDAP told the Media here today.
He said that Pakistan can promote trade with African countries in different sectors including textiles items, surgical and sports goods and agro- products for increasing exports.
Replying to a question, he said that we were working on the global value chain for promoting the demanded product in the international market to enhance the trade volume of the country.
He added that Pakistan ranks 107 out of 140 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index, which needs to be improved for economic stability and growth.
He said that for expansion of the trade infrastructure in the country, we were setting up expos centers at Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and other cities of the country.
He said that TDAP was planning to invite trade delegation and quarantine officers for rice from Mexico, meat regulation from China, Russia, and Mauritius and Indonesia and fisheries inspector from the USA for sharing the mutual expertise.