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Importing France’s model of laïcité is a mistake for the PQ

Talking to media persons after inaugurating a road show titled, ‘world of energy efficiency for a better Pakistan,” here by Schneider Electric, a company which offers solutions to energy management, the ambassador said France was collaborating with other partners including the Asian Development Bank on different components of energy-related projects and one of these schemes which cost $600 million would help Pakistan save 1000 WM. Replying to a question, he said France had international commitments and would abide by them with regard to the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project. The ambassador said Pakistan is a sovereign state and she took decisions on their own for meeting its energy needs. As far as the French government was concerned, he added, it would go by the international commitments, adding Pakistan had not requested for cooperation with regard to the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project. He said France was focusing on small projects including “Munda Dam” and other hydropower projects to efficiently ease energy crisis in Pakistan. Earlier inaugurating the show, he lauded the management of Schneider Electric for bringing their whole product profile under one roof. He said such road shows will definitely leave an impact on energy efficient measures in future. He said the road show was being held under the umbrella campaign experience efficiency to showcase the complete energy solution portfolio of Schneider Electric under one roof. He said the event would act as a platform to educate the national stakeholders about energy solutions and seek to address energy challenges by offering solutions that add value to one’s business in the long-run while aimed at all relevant audience of Schneider Electric – end users, government entities and the partners, the event will also touch upon key innovative and industry leading breakthroughs Schneider Electric have achieved globally including Ecostruxure, Struxureware and Smartstruxure. The event is being leveraged as a platform to showcase Schneider Electric’s portfolio of integrated solutions that facilitate intelligent energy management for its customers. Benoit Dubarle, Country President – UAE, Oman & Pakistan, Schneider Electric Gulf said, “Our road show offers a unique platform to identify new opportunities and a chance to meet with influential leaders and decision makers in the sectors. We focus on energy, IT, finance, government, hotels, healthcare and manufacturing.

Vivendi-owned SFR said 1.5 million homes will be within range of its fibre service from the end of 2013, with a promotional price of 9.99 per month for a year. Iliad’s Free in turn said its fibre to the home service would be available to Free Revolution subscribers at no extra charge. Its existing phone, broadband and TV packages start at 29.99 a month. The two operators also unveiled new VDSL offerings to complement their fibre rollouts from 1 October, which is the date from which commercial VDSL2 services are permitted on a nationwide basis in France according to French regulator Arcep. Tests have been carried out on the technology in the Dordogne and the Gironde departments since April. SFR cited information from Arcep that said an upgrade to VDSL2 could give six percent of the 31 million copper lines in France download speeds of more than 30Mbps. Orange, France’s biggest telco, has already been investing in VDSL2, equipping 16 percent of its lines in the country with the technology. SFR said ‘Box de SFR’ customers with eligible lines would benefit from VDSL technology free of charge and could order the upgrade via their online accounts, while VDSL will be available to new customers subscribing to a 19.99 Multi-Pack plan with a bundled-in mobile plan. Free also said eligible ADSL users will now get higher-speed connections via ADSL2+ or VDSL2 for no extra cost. However, Free has already come under fire from Arcep for what the regulator describes as misleading information about the two high-speed broadband services. With regard to the fibre, Free is claiming its FTTH offering is far better than the GPON approach being taken by other French operators because each subscriber will receive a dedicated 1Gbps line. However, Arcep noted that the actual speed not only depends on the access network but also the interconnection infrastructure, and added that customers were still experiencing problems with online video. Arcep also took issue with Free’s claim that its VDSL2 service would provide download speeds of 100Mbps.

France’s SFR and Free go head to head on 1Gbps fibre as VDSL2 goes national

Rather than banning all visible religious symbols, however, the law distinguished between acceptable adiscreeta symbols (earrings, small crosses, etc.) and unacceptable aconspicuousa ones (head scarves, skullcaps, turbans and large crucifixes). Followers of the current debate over the proposed Quebec charter will no doubt recognize much of this logic, and English speakers will have noted the use of the word aconspicuous.a While the English-language version of the new Quebec government website devoted to the charter tells us that public-sector employees would no longer be allowed to wear aconspicuous religious symbols,a the French version uses a different term: aostentatoire.a That term, which actually translates as aostentatiousa in English, was specifically dropped from the French law because it seemed to impute certain motives to the individuals wearing these symbols a notably, a desire to provoke, incite or otherwise disturb the general public. This attention to words is important in another respect; it suggests that the fixation in both France and Quebec on religious symbols and the motives of those who wear them isnat primarily about religion. After all, exceptions have been made in both cases. Critics of the proposed Quebec charter have pointed to the crucifix hanging in the National Assembly as evidence that xenophobia or potential electoral gains a and not secularism a is the real driving force behind the initiative. Exceptions have also been made in France, where an entire region of the country (Alsace-Moselle) remains exempt from the 1905 law separating church and state. Talal Asad, a leading scholar of religion, has argued that the very act of establishing exceptions to secularism in France has itself been a means for the state to expand its authority over the public sphere. If we apply this logic to Quebec, the proposed charter may well be the result of an impulse to expand the powers of the provincial government at a moment when full independence for Quebec looks increasingly unlikely. The ability to make exceptions to the proposed charter a such as the crucifix hanging in the National Assembly a should be considered as an affirmation of the governmentas right to distinguish aculturala symbols from areligiousa ones. In defining all public employees as extensions of the state, the charter would also massively expand the definition of the state. Coming at a particularly bleak moment for the independence movement, the proposed charter thus serves to expand the jurisdiction of the provincial state and underscore the differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada. But this strategy risks harming rather than helping the sovereignist cause. The low birthrate in Quebec has made the province heavily dependent on immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East for the preservation of the French language. The proposed charter therefore risks alienating a crucial and growing demographic from the sovereigntist cause.