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France inks weapons mega-deal with UAE amid Macron's Gulf tour

Emmanuel Macron says they are important contracts for the deepening defense cooperation between France and the UAE that will contribute to the stability of the region and enhance a common fight against terrorism.

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France inks weapons mega-deal with UAE amid Macron's Gulf tour
GNN Media: Representational Photo

France announced multibillion-euro deals Friday to sell fighter planes and combat helicopters to the United Arab Emirates, aiming to boost military cooperation with its top ally in the Persian Gulf amid their shared concerns about Iran.

The UAE is buying 80 upgraded Rafale warplanes in a deal the French Defense Ministry said is worth 16 billion euros ($18 billion) and represents the largest-ever French weapons contract for export. It also announced a deal with the UAE to sell 12 Airbus-built combat helicopters.

They offer a shot in the arm for France’s defense industry after the collapse of a $66 billion contract for Australia to buy 12 French submarines that ultimately went to the U.S. But the deals faced criticism by human rights groups concerned about the UAE’s involvement in the yearslong war in Yemen.

The UAE contracts were signed as French President Emmanuel Macron visited the country on the first stop of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf. France and Gulf countries have long been concerned by Iran’s nuclear ambitions and influence across the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

France has particularly deep ties to the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula. France has a naval base there and French warplanes and personnel also are stationed in a major facility outside the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Macron said they are important contracts for the deepening defense cooperation between France and the UAE that will contribute to the stability of the region and enhance a common fight against terrorism.

In addition, “it’s important for our economy because the planes are manufactured in France,” he said.

Macron and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s de factor ruler, were present at the Rafale contract signing.

Manufacturer Dassault Aviation said the UAE is buying the upgraded F4 version of its multirole Rafale combat aircraft. That will make the Emirates Air Force the first Rafale F4 user outside of France, it said.

Dassault Aviation boss Eric Trappier called the sale “a French success story” and “excellent news for France and for its aeronautical industry.”

The purchase marks a sizable step up for the UAE’s military capabilities in the oil- and gas-rich region. Charles Forrester, a senior analyst at Janes, said the fighter “will significantly upgrade UAE’s airpower capabilities in terms of strike, air-to-air warfare, and reconnaissance.” Abu Dhabi also hopes to buy American stealth F-35 fighters after diplomatically recognizing Israel last year.

Dassault said the Rafale will give the UAE “a tool capable of guaranteeing sovereignty and operational independence” and that it will start delivering the planes in 2027.

French defense officials were jubilant. Defense Minister Florence Parly said the Rafale deal “directly contributes to regional stability.” The additional sale of Caracal helicopters also illustrates “the density of our defense relationship,” she said.

Human rights groups said weapons the UAE provides to its Gulf allies could be used “for unlawful attacks or even war crimes” in Yemen as well as Libya, a conflict that the UAE has been accused of being involved in through proxies.

“France’s support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia is even more objectional as their leaders have failed to improve their countries’ disastrous human rights records domestically, although their public relations efforts to present themselves as progressive and tolerant internationally is in full swing,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement ahead of Macron’s trip to the Gulf.

Macron’s keen interest in forging personal relationships with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and his counterpart in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, makes him a welcome guest in the region. Both Gulf leaders value a degree of pragmatism when discussing democracy and human rights — issues on which their countries have been heavily criticized by rights groups and European lawmakers — while pursuing business opportunities.

Months after Macron was elected in 2017, he traveled to the UAE to inaugurate Louvre Abu Dhabi, built under a $1.2 billion agreement to share the name and art of the world-famous museum in Paris.

In September, Macron hosted Abu Dhabi’s crown prince at the historic Chateau de Fontainebleau outside Paris, which was restored in 2019 with a UAE donation of 10 million euros ($11.3 million).

The UAE and France also have become increasingly aligned over a shared mistrust of Islamist political parties across the Middle East and backed the same side in Libya’s civil strife.

A senior French presidency official who spoke to reporters ahead of the trip on customary condition of anonymity said Macron will “continue to push and support the efforts that contribute to the stability of the region, from the Mediterranean to the Gulf.”

Gulf tensions will be discussed, the official said, in particular the revived talks about Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, following then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

“This is a hot topic,” the French official said, adding that Macron discussed the issues in a phone call Monday with Iran’s president. He will talk about the call and the issues — including the nuclear deal talks in Vienna — with Gulf leaders, who are “directly concerned by this subject, like all of us but also because they are (Iran’s) neighbors,” the official said.

France, along with Germany and the United Kingdom, thinks the 2015 nuclear agreement — with minor tweaks — is the way forward with Iran, analysts say. The UAE and Saudi Arabia bitterly opposed the West’s negotiated deal with Iran, though now both have launched talks with Tehran to cool tensions.

“Although the Gulf countries did not like the West’s deal with Iran, the prospect of it falling apart acrimoniously is also bad for them and arguably presents worse risks,” said Jane Kinninmont, a London-based Gulf expert with the European Leadership Network think tank.

“Their view has always been the West should have gotten more out of Iran before sealing the deal,” Kinninmont said. “But if the West walks away with nothing, the Gulf countries are beginning to understand that their security will not improve as a result.”

SOURCE: AP

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

Regional

Two colleges closed in Islamabad amid rising coronavirus cases

Six cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges of Islamabad

Published by Faisal Waqas

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Two colleges closed in Islamabad amid rising coronavirus cases

Islamabad: Islamabad administration has closed two colleges after emerging coronavirus cases on Sunday. 

According to the details garnered, positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges of the federal capital. In this regard, the Islamabad district health officer (DHO) has informed the Deputy Commissioner in a letter.

In the letter to the deputy commissioner (DC), the DHO informed that six cases of COVID-19 have been reported in two colleges. The DHO said that three Corona cases have been reported in IMCG G-6/1, while three Corona cases have also come to light in IMCG F-6/2. 

Following to the coronavirus cases, the district health officer directed to close the two colleges immediately till the next order and spray disinfectant.

The letter said that the federal administration should conduct contact tracing and testing in both the colleges, while the tests should also be conducted of close relatives to the infected female students.

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Business

President apologizes to an aged taxpayer over administrative injustice of FBR

Arif Alvi directs FBR chairman to take punitive action against entire chain of decision-makers involved in case

Published by Faisal Waqas

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President apologizes to an aged taxpayer over administrative injustice of FBR

Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi has apologized to an aged taxpayer over administrative injustice by the Federal Board of Revenue.

In a press release issued on Sunday, the president expressed dismay over the treatment of an 82 years old tax payer by the FBR and directed FBR chairman to take punitive action against the entire chain of decision-makers involved in the case.

He directed the Chairman of FBR to look into the entire system of irresponsibility and corruption and take punitive action against the entire chain of decision makers involved in the case.

Dr Arif Alvi took exception to the decision of FBR against a senior citizen that refused him to refund a paltry sum of 2,333 rupees on frivolous grounds and dragged him into unnecessary litigation spanning over a year. Apologizing to the senior citizen Abdul Hamid Khan, the President said that our heads should hang in shame for the inconvenience caused by FBR to the senior citizen.

Apologizing to the senior citizen Abdul Hamid Khan, the president said that their heads should hang in shame for the inconvenience caused by the FBR to a senior citizen.

The president took exception to the decision of FBR against the senior citizen in which the bureau had refused to refund a paltry sum of Rs2,333 on frivolous grounds and dragged him into unnecessary litigation spanning over a year.

“Punitive action must be taken along the entire line of decision-makers in this case and Chairman FBR should ensure that those responsible, in particular, and others, in general, go through courses to teach them priorities and courtesies, he directed.

The president while rejecting FBR’s appeal in the instant complaint observed that it appeared that unlawful treatment meted out in the instant case with a view to irritate and humiliate the aging pensioner.

Abdul Hamid Khan (the complainant), a senior citizen of 82 years of age, had claimed a refund of Rs 2,333 on his income tax return for the year 2020 and submitted requisite documents of advance tax deduction of the PTCL and cell phone company bills on 19.10.2020.

The complainant e-filed refund application on 19th October, 2020 followed by representation to FBR Chairman on 24th December, 2020.

The Unit officer of FBR rejected his refund claim, on 29.01.2021, on the grounds that the applicant had failed to furnish the original certificates required for authentication.

The complainant then took up the matter with the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) to seek redressal of his complaint.

The FTO investigated the matter and ordered FBR on 02.06.2021 to revisit the impugned order dated 19.01.2021 and pass a fresh order under section 170(4) of the ordinance, after providing the complainant the opportunity for hearing as per law.

It further ordered to identify and initiate disciplinary proceedings against the official who passed the impugned order in derogation of the law and procedures and dragged the aging taxpayer into unnecessary litigation as well as report compliance within 45 days. Consequently, FBR filed a representation with the president against the original order of FTO on 24.06.2021.

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Entertainment

Veteran actor Rasheed Naz passes away 

The news of sad demise of Rasheed has been revealed by his daughter-in-law and actress Madiha Rizvi who shared a post on her Instagram handle.

Published by Mehak Javed

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Veteran actor Rasheed Naz passes away 

Peshawar: Veteran Pakistani actor Rasheed Naz passed away on Monday, his family confirmed. He was 73.

The news of sad demise of Rasheed has been revealed by his daughter-in-law and actress Madiha Rizvi who shared a post on her Instagram handle.

“Rasheed Naz is no longer with us,” the actress wrote,

"Our beloved Baba Rashid Naz passed away this morning. Please recite Surah Al-Fatihah for the soul of the deceased," she added.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Madiha Rizvi Official (@diyariz)

The veteran actor’s funeral prayers will be offered at Charsadda Road Eid Gah at 3PM.

Born in 1948, Rasheed started his television career as an actor in Pushto television play. He also worked in several Pashto, Hindko and Urdu language plays.

His first Urdu play was Aik Tha Gaoon (1973). The renowned star also worked in Pakistan's first private television play Dasht, telecast on N T M.

In 1988, he worked in his first Pashto film Zama Jang (in Urdu "Meri Jang"). His first Urdu film was Syed Noor's Dakait. He also worked in Shoaib Mansoor's film Khuda Ke Liye.

Rasheed Naz’s popular films include Karachi to Lahore, Varna, Khuda Ke Liye and others.

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