To showcase Pakistan’s continued commitment to peace and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) on Tuesday launched a documentary titled “The Real AfPak Fighting Terrorism through Knowledge” at a ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

The documentary, which highlights the impact of  Pakistani educational scholarships for Afghan students, has been directed by noted Saudi media figure Sameera Aziz and documents the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities of Afghan students during their education in Pakistani higher education institutions under the Allama Iqbal Scholarship Programme. The documentary also includes interviews with Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and several Afghan students regarding the academic opportunity offered to the youth of the neighbouring country under the programme.

President Mamnoon Hussain, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan Omer Zakhilwal were in attendance at the ceremony. Laying stress on the importance of cordial bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the president said people of Pakistan and Afghanistan shared mutual respect and affection owing to bonds of blood, religion, geographical proximity and culture.

He hoped that the Afghan students would not only help to compensate the losses incurred by the war against terrorism but would also help in the development of the communities involved. The president stated that both countries had lost many lives and suffered huge losses due to terrorism. Mamnoon said Pakistan and Afghanistan needed to develop mutual trust and thwart the plots of enemies who were trying to corrupt the relationship between the two countries. Referring to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that CPEC would not only benefit Pakistan, as it would bring educational and trade opportunities for Afghanistan too.

He added that following the success first phase of Allama Iqbal 3000 Scholarships to Afghan Students, the second phase had also been launched.

In his address, the HEC chairman said the main objective of the scholarship programme was to forge people-to-people relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said the programme covered undergraduate as well as Masters and PhD studies along with the training for Afghan teaching faculty.

Afghan Ambassador Zakhilwal acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts for extending scholarships to Afghan students. “I would like to thank Pakistan for generous hospitality it extends to Afghan students,” he added. Referring to the documentary, he said that the award of scholarship was not only a fight against terrorism but also against mistrust, isolation and lack of progress.

The plan for scholarships for Afghan students was initiated by Inter Provincial Coordination Division in 2009. Later, it was relocated to HEC for execution in 2015. The project envisions strengthening of bilateral relationships, professional linkages and development of human resource between the two states.

After the success of the first phase of this project, the Prime Minister of Pakistan approved of another 3000 scholarships for Afghan nationals at a capital cost of Rs 7364.735 million. The students selected under these scholarships are enrolled in public and private sector universities in various fields, including Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, Engineering, Business Administration and Computer Science.

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