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An interview with Gilles Pascal, Director AFK (Text and Video)

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NPTV:  Tell our audience about your early life.

GP: First of all Good Day. I was born in Montpellier, which is a city in the south of France. I had my primary, secondary and university education in the same city. This region is very dear to me. Both my parents were government servants. I spent perhaps not my best years but my youth in this city. I did scientific studies. At the end of my studies, I passed the competitive examination for becoming a teacher. I started as a primary teacher and then underwent training to become a trainer for teachers. I had a long career in education. It is 7 years since I converted to a career in francophony and in the Alliance Française network across the world.

After university, I passed the examination for entering what they call in France Teachers Training Schools which are the training centers for the future school teachers. I underwent both educative and practical training for becoming a primary school teacher. After having been a teacher for 17 years I became a master-trainer for training future school teachers. I served passionately. Teaching is something for which I have great passion. I remained in this career for a long time, about 25 years with motivation and passion because I am attracted by imparting education to children, helping them to acquire competency and knowledge.

NPTV: Whey you opted to be in culture?

GP: I started my career abroad quite a long time ago. I first started with Africa. I worked as a teacher in Nigeria. I worked for a French company. We had a school for children of French expatriates. I remained there for a few years. Then I worked as a teacher in China. After I returned to France for quite a long period, because my children were also studying in France. Then I chose to work abroad again. I worked in Mayotte which is a French territory near Comoros in the Gulf of Mozambique between Madagascar and South Africa. I worked there for training teachers at a university institute.

Then I wanted to remain in the Indian Ocean region. I went to exercise the functions of the director of Alliance Française in Madagascar in a city called Fianarantsoa.  In the language of Madagascar, it means the city where we learn good things. Madagascar is a country which is constituted of different ethnic groups. When the last queen governed the country from this city she gave it this name and the population had to be taught good things in order to behave as the dominant people. It is a city where there is a big Alliance France. It is practically the only cultural center of this city. Moreover, it imparts French language training to a large number of Madagascan people of all ages, because the Madagascan students have to undergo university education in French.

Therefore the Alliance Française of Fianarantsoa like all the Alliance Française of Madagascar has a role to play for the future of the young Madagascans. Then recently, about eight months ago I was named Director of the Alliance Française of Karachi. I am very happy to be in Karachi. Alliance Française of Karachi has exceptional premises. It has a real cultural influence in this city. I want to work for maintaining this influence, to develop it and to develop the teaching activity also. It should be known that all the Alliance Française across the world are not French establishments but associations under local law.

The Alliance Française of Karachi is a Pakistani association. I say that because what is important to understand is that an Alliance Française is at the service of its members.  The Alliance of Karachi is at the service of its members who want to learn French, participate in different workshops whether artistic, photographic, related to painting and sports, French expression, or who come to participate in cultural activities organized by Alliance Française. Certainly, we are here to promote Francophone culture, but one of our main missions is to promote cultural exchanges, to promote alongside Francophone cultural expression the Pakistani cultural expression as well as that of other countries.

NPTV: Why did you opt to come to Pakistan and how is your experience so far?

GP: I had not applied to come to Karachi. I had applied for other countries, but in the ministry of foreign affairs in Paris I was given a presentation on the Alliance Française of Karachi and it was proposed to me to come to Karachi. When I discovered this Alliance, I quickly accepted with great interest. Because I came to know of its activities and the premises that it possesses and the potential that it has to develop a cultural program of quality. I am here for nine months and I am very happy with my life here. I tell my friends and relatives in France who ignore what the life is like in Karachi, who always have apprehensions regarding security, that I am safe here and everything is all right. I invite all who want to discover Pakistan to come to Karachi. I have already invited my family members who came for vacations and who also came for cultural activities. I continue to do that. We need to recruit teachers from France and we succeed in recruiting them. We tell them that the life in Karachi is pleasant we feel good here.

I have a contract with the ministry of foreign affairs which is now called the ministry of Europe and foreign affairs. Normally, I have to remain here for four years. We will see what happens during these four years. During these four years, I hope to continue developing the Alliance Francaise. My mission is to develop the Alliance Francaise for all the staff whether teaching or administrative, to develop their motivation and competency. Karachi is a city of 25 million inhabitants. It is mainly an English speaking city. But we should be able to teach French to a great number of young and less young public. What I want first of all is to develop the teaching of French by increasing the number of teachers and students and then to continue to implement an open cultural program. We are going to continue to invite artists from France. But we are also going to develop a partnership with local festivals, to make it possible for local artists to perform at Alliance, not only the known and recognized artists. The mission of the Alliance is to facilitate the emergence of new talent and make it possible for the young artists to perform, the Pakistani artists to perform and to help in the cultural creativity of the people of Karachi.

I am interested in music indeed. I was born a little before the sixties. My youth was dominated by Rock and Pop music. I was never really a musician but I was tempted to be one when I was young. Music was always something important for me. I am not a specialist of classical music but I can appreciate the classical music. Working at Alliance I always take pleasure in listening to the artists who perform.  I always did a little photography. I am not an artist but the photography was present in all moments of my life. During about 10 years I was also press correspondent so I indulged in photography and editing. This is something which never quit me. I always kept a camera with me. I always took photos although with digital cameras we tend to take photographs all the time even if we don’t see and print them. Photography is a very important art for me.

I took lots of photos in Alliance when my family came here. For the moment I am waiting to discover outside of the city. But I did not get an opportunity to go outside the city. I am in a hurry to discover the surrounding rural areas and this vast country. I went to Islamabad by air but I am frustrated to have never been able to cross the country for discovering the landscape, the villages, the cities and the people who live there.

NPTV: Have you any plans to explore Pakistan?

GP: It is planned. But there are also lots of things to do at Alliance.  It’s true that sometimes one can regret to never have time to see the country in which we live and work. Surely I plan to visit the northern areas of Pakistan. I have a colleague and friend who is Director of Alliance Française Islamabad. He is of Pakistani origin. I won’t say he made me discover the mountains but we went to the foot of first hills of the Himalayan range. The project would be to discover them really.

Lahore is also a city which I would like to know and visit. Everywhere I will take the time to visit. It will be a very enriching moment.  Meet the people also and not only discover the landscape. Not only visit but know the people also and have exchanges with them. Since I was young and I worked in foreign countries it was always motivated to meet people, discover their culture and not only the landscape and the cities. It is true that by discovering other cultures we enrich ourselves enormously. Indeed I would like to discover the different cultures of Pakistan, certainly, the landscapes which I am told are magnificent but also the people.

The mother of my children has passed away but we have passed on to our children the desire of traveling and discovering other things than the country we find ourselves in. I have children who have always traveled. The youngest of my daughters is living in London for 7 years. I think that our children have picked up this taste of travel, discovery, and exchange.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arts & Literature

Franco-Pak bid to deepen cultural ties

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PARIS: A two-member Pakistani delegation met Pak Envoy to France  H.E. Moin-ul- Haque. 

The delegation comprised of Syed Junaid Akhlaq, DG Fed. Dept. of Archaeology & Museums and Zafar Ali Secretary Culture, Tourism & Archaeology of Balochistan. French Embassy’s Counselor Cultural and Cooperation André De Bussy was also present on the occasion.

The Ambassador briefed the delegation about Pakistan-France cultural relations and various initiatives being taken to further strengthen cooperation in this area. He welcomed the proposed MoU between National History and Literary Heritage Division of Pakistan and  Musée Guimet in this regard. 

The Ambassador noted Pakistan’s rich history and diverse cultural heritage. Currently, Pakistan has six UNESCO World Heritage sites and efforts were being made to inscribe more cultural and natural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.  Later, Syed Junaid Akhlaq and Zafar Ali briefed the Ambassador on steps taken by the Federal and Balochistan governments to promote culture, develop new museums and protect and preserve archaeological treasures of Pakistan.  

The two-member Pakistani cultural delegation was on a 7-day visit to France organized by the Embassy of France to Pakistan. During its stay, the delegation will hold discussions with the officials of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Management of Guimet Museum and archeological experts besides visiting historical and cultural sites of France.

French Embassy’s Counselor Cultural and Cooperation André De Bussy

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Arts & Literature

Kartarpur beginning of a new world?

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LAHORE: Poet, playwright, and columnist Amjad Islam Amjad has said that Kartarpur Border Corridor (KBC) had laid the foundation of a better world for the future generations of India and Pakistan.
In an interview with the Media here today, he said 95 percent people on both sides of the border were tied in the bond of love and the initiative would help flourish mutual love, adding that people wished to live in peace and harmony. He said there was a need to discourage hostility-maniac small groups in India and Pakistan who had always wanted to subvert relations, adding that it was the responsibility of the governments to work for establishing cordial relations. “Though this corridor should have been built on August, 15th,1947, it was never late to take a constructive measure and irrespective of the fact it had materialized 70 years late, I endorse it”, he responded. He said countries were divided with the intent to live like good neighbors and contribute to each other’s progress.
He said he wished to see open borders between the two like the United States and Canada. About the decision to demolish Punjab Governor’s House walls, he said they, as a nation, were champions of making a mountain of a molehill, adding that Punjab Governor’s House building was a national heritage
as well as a symbol of colonialism. “If Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to erode the colonial symbol from the hearts and minds of the people, there was nothing bad in it”, he responded, adding that Imran Khan was right in his stance. On the Urdu language, the famous poet stressed the importance of preserving the language, adding that English was meant for higher education and not for primary education.
Speaking for the importance of a uniform education system, he said our education system has become a hotchpotch of systems including the Urdu medium, English medium, Madrassah system, and other elite educational philosophies and with no clear direction. He said the absence of a uniform education system in the country was promoting the class-based society and widening the gulf between the people while students from different social backgrounds sat on a single bench at schools some decades ago.
On the importance of Urdu language, he regretted the fact that Urdu was not the mode of education at primary level in our schools, adding that there was no need to teach English at an early age to a children
as it would make them lose touch with their culture, civilization, customs, values, and language if they were not taught Urdu at an early age. He said there was no denying the fact that English was a tool of success in the global world but it did not mean Urdu should be compromised. “An ideal education system should be a blend of values of the past
and demands of the modern era”, he responded, adding that it was unfortunate our elders had not worked for an ideal education system over the past 70 years. He said they must coexist with technology but let’s not impose English on national language which was a heritage to be preserved for posterity. About his poetry, he said the youth must not hark on the deprivations but work hard to improve their present for a glorious future. “Nobody had any control over the past but future was in one’s control.”
On the role of writers to eradicate extremism from society, he said the poets and writers were playing their due role but it was a collective responsibility of the poets, political parties, politicians and education system to create awareness on the pitfalls of extremism in society. To a question, he said Madrassahs were not to be blamed for the current rise in extremism in society, adding that comprehensive curriculum was vital for giving a vision of life to our younger generation. About the student unions in colleges and universities, it was important to reform functions of student unions, adding that the student bodies were formed to teach students about their rights and prepare them for the outside world but it was unfortunate that student unions had become a tool of political parties.

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WIPO announces CDP for Pakistan

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WIPO announces CDP for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: In a milestone achievement, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced the first ever Country Development Program (CDP) for Pakistan which would help Intellectual Property Organization (IPO-Pakistan) to enter into international treaties such as Madrid Protocol, PCT, Marrakesh Treaty etc. 
This was declared by the visiting experts of WIPO during the three-day International Conference on Trade Mark which concluded here on Friday. The conference was organized by WIPO in collaboration with IPO-Pakistan. The participants included WIPO Experts, International Consultants and representatives of Trademarks offices from Switzerland, France, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Magnolia, and the Philippines. The purpose of this event is to share the experiences of trademark examiners, especially the best practices and to devise a mechanism to improve examiners competency.
During the meetings, it was decided that Muhammad Naseer, Executive Director, IPO-Pakistan and David Simmons, Counsellor, WIPO would be the focal persons for the CDP.
IPO-Pakistan would formally request to DG WIPO to organize Heads of IP Offices Conference for the year 2020 in Pakistan. IPO would also send a formal request to WIPO to provide an international/regional consultant to enable IPO-Pakistan to prepare for the accession to Madrid Protocol by February 2019.
It is pertinent to mention here that the three-day moot was inaugurated by Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan, Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce. While the session was attended by Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, Chairman IPO, Muhammad Irfan Tarar, Director General and others.
Addressing the opening session, Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan thanked WIPO for choosing Pakistan to host the international conference on such an important subject. Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, Chairman IPO assured the support of IPO Pakistan to WIPO for organizing such events in future.
At the end of three-day moot, Director General, IPO-Pakistan gave away certificates to the organizers and participants of the conference.

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