ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday unequivocally stated that Islamabad "wants peace and prosperity in Afghanistan” as he went on to state that they will continue to extend all-out support for its western neighbour’s rebuilding process.
Dr Alvi stated this on Monday while addressing the Pakistan-Afghan cultural event ‘Payam-e-Subh’ organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for Afghan students pursuing higher education in different universities of Pakistan on scholarship.
"You are the elite and the privileged ones,” the President said, adding, “You have been given the opportunity to study in Pakistan.”
“Go back to your country with better education and skills, as it is your responsibility to rebuild your country."
Dr Alvi stated that Afghanistan has gone through a lot of challenges. However, he said that the Afghan nation has proved that nobody can subjugate them. He underlined that Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy strong, brotherly relations and that the two countries have always `stood by each other.
"Nobody can break the friendly bonds between the two countries," he stated.
He regretted that the two countries have suffered at the hands of poverty, rivalries, extremism and terrorism.
"Let's act together against these common enemies. Afghanistan deserves peace and a huge rebuilding process awaits you. Pakistan will always be there to support you," Dr Alvi vowed.
He added that cultural events provide opportunities for exchanges which improve communication amongst nations.
During the event, the President also launched a logo for the Allama Iqbal Scholarship meant for Afghan students.
Earlier, HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri stated that the Allama Iqbal Scholarship for Afghan students not only provides an opportunity to the Afghan youth to study in some of the top Pakistani universities but also provides a means to promote diversity on campuses.
“Education is incomplete without exposure of students to diverse cultures,” he said, adding that the programme also helps build people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He noted that Pakistan and Afghanistan share religious as well as cultural roots while Pak-Afghan cultural events reflect the commonalities between the two societies.
“We are grateful to the Pakistan government and the HEC for awarding scholarships to Afghan students, as the programme encourages Afghan students to study in Pakistan and become ambassadors of Pakistan in Afghanistan," said Afghan Embassy Charge' d' Affaires Rahimullah Qatra.
He added that Kabul was proud of its cordial relations with Islamabad and that they were committed to expanding these bonds. He said Afghanistan acknowledges and thanks Pakistan for accommodating its refugees.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan underscored that Pakistan accords high priority to deepening people-to-people contacts between the two nations.
He said that the government had approved scholarships for 100 Afghan students on the recommendation of the Pakistan Embassy. He added that 17% of the scholarships are for female students.
As the Afghan youths are the wealth and dividend of Afghanistan, investing on them through Allama Iqbal Scholarships is a great contribution to human capital development for the country, he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2019.