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The Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Thursday announced overseas PhD scholarships for faculty members of selected public universities across Pakistan. Titled ‘Overseas Scholarships for Public Sector Universities’, the awards will fall under the commission’s Faculty Development Programme and will entertain applications from public universities that have a human resource development (HRD) component in their Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Continuing its tradition of lending a helping hand to Afghan brethren, higher education authorities in Pakistan have announced the award of educational scholarships for 3,000 Afghan students. The scholarships will allow Afghan students to receive fully-funded higher education in top universities across Pakistan.

A ceremony to mark the award was held on Thursday in Lahore with Punjab Governor Muhammad Rafiq Rajwana in the chair. Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and Afghan Ambassador Omer Zakhilwal were also present.

The first batch of 3,000 students enrolled under the programme have already completed their degrees and returned to Afghanistan.

The scholarship awards have been made available under Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarship Programme. The programme was launched in 2009 and awards the scholarship over a five-year period. The first batch of 3,000 students enrolled under the programme have already completed their degrees and returned to Afghanistan. The scholarship has now been extended to include MPhil and PhD programmes as well. The awardees will be able to pursue higher education in various fields, including medicine, engineering, agriculture, management and computer science.

Addressing the ceremony HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahnmed said the commission believed in person-to-person and institution-to-institution relations. He said it was this belief due to which HEC had invited Afghan academicians to come live and work in Pakistan. “HEC will provide support in quality assurance and human resource development of the Afghan education system.” He said it was time to channel energies on constructive things instead of wasting time on destruction

Describing the selection of candidates, Dr Mukhtar said HEC had worked diligently with Afghan Ministry of Education to conduct tests in Afghanistan. “The merit list for MPhil and PhD programmes is also being processed,” he added.

Punjab Governor Rajwana said Pakistan always took pride in hosting Afghan students. “These students will become Pakistan’s ambassadors in Afghanistan once they return to their motherland,” he added.

Afghan Ambassador Omer Zakhilwal congratulated HEC for the scholarships, saying the two countries were “celebrating an important dimension of student exchange. It is the desire and wish of our people to keep good relations with Pakistanis”.