Australia and Pakistan Collaborate for Sustainable Development
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Australia and Pakistan Collaborate for Sustainable Development

Australia and Pakistan Collaborate for Sustainable Development

On Sunday, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Neil Hawkins, reiterated Australia’s dedication to Pakistan’s future, focusing on significant investments in education and trade.

In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Hawkins underscored Australia’s strategic commitment to nurturing the potential of Pakistan’s youth, particularly those studying in Australia. “Our aim is to invest in the people of Pakistan, especially the youth studying in Australia. We hope they return with essential skills to contribute to Pakistan’s future,” he stated.

Hawkins highlighted Australia’s ongoing initiatives to provide scholarships, emphasizing support for women in leadership, climate change, and agriculture. “We prioritize gender equality and climate change,” he noted, pointing out the mutual environmental challenges and opportunities for collaboration between the two countries.

The High Commissioner drew attention to critical environmental issues, particularly concerning water and agriculture. Reflecting on his recent visit to northern Pakistan, Hawkins shared insights on observing the direct impacts of climate change, underscoring the importance of such firsthand assessments.

Addressing trade, Hawkins reported a remarkable growth, citing a 30% increase in trade volume from the $2.5 billion recorded in 2022. Key exports include agricultural products such as cattle, wheat, and canola, with Australia supplying nearly 90% of Pakistan’s canola. “If you’re enjoying chickpeas for breakfast, they’re probably from Australia,” he added with a smile.

The interview coincided with an event celebrating the accomplishments of 60 Pakistani scholars who recently completed their studies in Australia through the Australia Awards scholarship program. These scholars, including 21 men and 39 women, were recognized for their academic excellence and commitment. “I am delighted to celebrate with these Pakistani scholars who have completed their studies with Australian funding,” Hawkins expressed. “I congratulate them on their hard work and dedication, and I am confident their newly acquired skills will benefit Pakistan. It’s a significant investment by Australia in Pakistan’s future.”

The Australia Awards scholarship program plays a crucial role in the Australian Government’s development assistance to Pakistan, equipping scholars with the expertise needed to drive progress in their home country.

High Commissioner Hawkins stressed the importance of representation from all regions of Pakistan and the empowerment of women, noting that promoting gender equality is central to Australia’s foreign policy. However, he voiced concerns about some scholarship recipients remaining in Australia post-graduation, in violation of their scholarship agreements. He cautioned that such actions undermine the program’s purpose and could jeopardize future opportunities for Pakistani students.

As Australia continues to invest in Pakistan’s future through education and trade, the High Commissioner’s message is clear: the strength of this bilateral relationship lies in shared goals and collaborative efforts to address global challenges, ensuring sustainable development and prosperity for both nations.

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