Consecutive unrest and war in Afghanistan have totally damaged the country. With no infrastructure, no industry, no power, and no agriculture, the country has been transformed into a desert almost. The explosives, weapons, and ammunition used in Afghanistan is was much more than the total compiled & collective explosives used in World War I and II.
Millions of people were killed, and millions were forced to leave their homes and take refuge in safe areas within Afghanistan and live in refugee camps or take refuge in neighboring countries and spent the rest of life as refugees. Houses were damaged, crops were destroyed, and infrastructures totally vanished.
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When the Taliban retook control of the country on 15 August 2021, after the withdrawal of all foreign troops, the country was totally devastated and was almost turned into scrap. New Taliban Government faced severe challenges and was left at the mercy of God only. Afghan assets were frozen and all sources of foreign aid were suspended. While leaving Afghanistan, the foreign troops destroyed and damaged as much as possible, leaving nothing behind for the Taliban to recover.
Taliban started almost from zero
Pakistan being the first door neighbor, felt the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan and came forward to extend immediate humanitarian assistance. The instant humanitarian assistance provided relief to many needy people instantly. But, what was required much and needed for sustainable development, was Human Resources.
Pakistan was fully aware of the Afghan situation and its needs. The leadership of Pakistan decided to promote much-needed Human Resource development in Afghanistan for its sustainable developments and permanent solutions to their all issues. Pakistan’s human resource development efforts for the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the light of the commencement of Phase III of the Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program (2022-2031) for Afghan students, the following measures were launched:
Pakistan attaches high priority to friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan and wishes to maintain a broad-based, mutually beneficial relationship.
Thousands of Afghan students have graduated from Pakistani universities, with many of them availing scholarships, during decades of conflict in the neighboring country. However, the exodus of skilled workforce after the withdrawal of foreign forces has resulted in a “brain drain” for Afghanistan.
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Pakistan has been generously committed to enabling Afghan youth in the education sector in order to help them rebuild their own country in a constructive manner.
In this context some significant contributions of Pakistan in the field of education and research are as under:-
Scholarships for Afghan Students
The Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program (AIS) of Pakistan was launched in 2009. It is a highly popular program as it places Afghan students in professional fields like medicine, engineering, agriculture, and business studies in large numbers.
In the year 2022, AIS is beginning its third phase of scholarships for the years 2022 – 2031. Under the program, GOP is offering 4,500 new scholarships to Afghan youth for their capacity building through imparting quality education in various fields including Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Management Computer science, etc.
Since Pakistan believes in empowering women through education, therefore, it has allocated 1/3rd of the scholarship awards for female Afghan students.
Over 30,000 students from across Afghanistan will compete for 1,500 scholarships every year to be placed in the best professional colleges and universities in Pakistan.
A budget of Rs. 12.686 billion will be allocated to fund AIS phase III; this speaks of the generosity and dedication of a poor country like Pakistan to its Afghan brethren.
New SOPs are being devised for the third phase of the scholarship program in order to address many of the issues Afghan scholars faced in the first two phases.
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Educational Infrastructure Development within Afghanistan
In Mazar-i-Sharif, Pakistan built Liaquat Ali Khan Engineering Faculty Block in Bulkh University for Rs. 1.046 billion.
In Kabul, Pakistan built Allama Iqbal, Faculty of Arts, and Kabul University for Rs. 672.54 million.
In Nangarhar Province, Pakistan built Sir Syed Post Graduate Faculty Block for Rs. 389.65 million while in Kabul.
Pakistan paid Rs. 120.00 million for the construction of Rehman Baba School.
Building of 6 primary schools and 2 Vocational Training Institutes in Kabul and Baghlan.
Buses for Kabul and Nangarhar Universities.
300,000 School Kits for 18 provinces.
2000 fully funded scholarships for higher education in Pakistan.
500,000 refugee students are enrolled in schools in Pakistan.
In February 2022, the Khyber Medical University (KMU) syndicate and HEC have given their initial approval for setting up a campus in Kabul. This step will not only help rebuild Afghanistan’s dilapidated health sector but simultaneously help ensure the provision of medical education to Afghan students in their country, instead of coming all the way to Pakistan.
The Pak-Afghan Graduate Association (PAGA) is a non-political organization, which is supported by Pak-Afghan Graduates. Its establishment is a step to promote people-to-people contacts and help the sustainable friendly relationship between the two countries.
Around 35,000 Afghans were educated in Pakistani universities and colleges in the last 30 years. Currently, over 7000 Afghan students are enrolled in various graduate and post-graduate programs in Pakistan. About half a million refugee children attended schools in Pakistan.
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Pakistan Embassy established a Vocational Training Institute in January 2011, wherein Afghan graduates (male and female) are adorned with modern techniques of the English language and Computers by professional Pakistani teachers. Around 3500 students including Govt functionaries hailing from different ministries i.e. Labor Ministry, and Health Ministry, have been imparted the best possible degree of training.
A peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan remains in Pakistan’s best interest.
Pakistan has been striving to build good relations with Afghanistan and take part in rebuilding its institutions.
Pakistan has always extended a helping hand to Afghanistan and continues to stand by its Afghan brothers and sisters.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have deep-rooted bonds of history, culture, geography, and faith. Pakistan is an active partner to support economic and social development and prosperity in Afghanistan.
Pakistan sincerely desires sustainable peace and developments in Afghanistan which should remain permanently. A stable and developing Pakistan can contribute to regional security and prosperity. There is complete consensus in the region that Afghanistan should prosper and develop. Pakistan is committed to assisting the Afghan brothers in all critical areas needed to stabilize and sustainable developments.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.