France turns screws on Imran Khan, refuses upgrade for Mirage, subs and more

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France has decided not to help Pakistan modernize its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defense system and Agosta 90B-class submarines, a direct result of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s harsh criticism of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to laugh at religion after the murder of a French professor, people familiar with the matter said.

France also told Qatar, one of the countries that bought the Rafale fighters, not to allow technicians of Pakistani origin to work with the plane, fearing it would leak technical information about the fighter in Islamabad because the omnidirectional jet is the front. -line fighter from India. Pakistan has been known to share vital defense data with China in the past.

Paris has already started to subject Pakistanis’ asylum claims to close scrutiny in light of the tense ties between the two countries and the knife incident outside the former Paris office of controversial magazine Charlie Hebdo. In September, Ali Hassan, an 18-year-old of Pakistani origin, stabbed two people with a meat cleaver in front of the magazine’s previous office, unaware that the magazine had moved. His father, who lives in Pakistan, later told a local news station that his son had “done a great job” and was “very happy” about the attack.

Indian Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla was briefed on the decisions of the French government during his visit to Paris on October 29 after New Delhi criticized the personal attacks on President Macron. France also reassured Shringla that it was very sensitive to the security concerns of its strategic ally and had issued instructions to keep technicians of Pakistani origin away from Rafale fighter jets under the export control regime. in light of India’s security concerns that inducted Rafale fighters in India. Aviation.

The French government’s decision not to modernize the Mirage III and Mirage 5 fighter jets could have a significant impact on the Pakistani Air Force, which has had around 150 Mirage fighter jets manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. However, only half of them are usable.

Pakistan had been buying Mirage planes for decades, some of them thrown away by other countries, according to a 2018 AFP report, and has a facility outside Islamabad to renovate aging fighter jets to make them fly. Diplomats in New Delhi and Paris told the Hindustan Times that Pakistan recently asked France for upgrades to keep fighter jets in the air. “The request was rejected,” said a diplomat in Paris.

A similar request to upgrade the Franco-Italian air defense system was also rejected.

Diplomats said a third request from Pakistan to upgrade its Agosta 90B-class submarines with air independent propulsion (AIP) systems that would allow them to stay underwater longer was also rejected. by France.

Pakistan has three Agosta 90B submarines: Khalid, Saad and Hamza.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously rejected a similar request to provide AIP systems to upgrade submarines in Pakistan’s inventory due to its role in promoting terrorism, particularly Islamabad’s inability to cooperate to identify the perpetrators of the truck bomb attack on the German Embassy in Kabul in May 2017.

The French government decisions came shortly after Prime Minister Khan, along with his close ally Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, led the charge against President Macron after his statement on the beheading of a teacher near the school where he showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, considered blasphemous by Muslims.

Prime Minister Khan followed up on his harsh criticism by sending an open letter to the leaders of Muslim-majority countries calling on them to unite against “growing Islamophobia in non-Muslim states”. Pakistan’s National Assembly went one step further by passing a government-backed resolution that demanded the recall of Pakistan’s envoy to Paris. He later realized that Pakistan had not had an ambassador in Paris for three months.

In the streets of Pakistan, calls have been launched to boycott French products. Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, an extremist Islamist group, which staged a sit-in in Islamabad over the reposting of the cartoons in France, revealed last week that the government had agreed to boycott French products. The group had made public an agreement with the signatures of the Federal Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of the Interior accepting the boycott.

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