ISLAMABAD, Oct 2 (APP): The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has awarded scholarships to as many as 3000 Afghan students under Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarship Programme. These students will pursue their higher education in different universities of Pakistan in various fields including Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Management, Computer Science, etc. The scholarships will be awarded over a period of five years, said Chairman HEC, Dr Mukhtar Ahmad on Monday. In an exclusive talk with APP, Dr Mukhtar said that out of the total 3000 scholarships given on open merit, around 2400 are for under graduates while 600 are for Post graduate male and female students.
He said that the Afghan ambassador has also requested the Government of Pakistan for allocation of 100 scholarships especially for girls as the literacy rate of women in Afghanistan is very low. Chairman HEC said that these scholarships were being awarded to Afghan students as a goodwill gesture and as part of nation building in the neighbouring country. “We have same culture and religion and we are brotherly countries having relations going back decades,” he added. “We are working to train their faculty so that they can work in their country for the promotion of quality education,” Dr Mukhtar Ahmad informed. In the first phase, which was launched in 2009 through Ministry of Education and Ministry for Inter-Provincial Coordination around 3000 scholarships were provided to Afghan students who had completed their studies and returned to Afghanistan.
Dr Mukhtar Ahmed informed that Higher Education Commission in collaboration with Ministry of Education Afghanistan conducted tests in Afghanistan and selected students for Phase-II of scholarships. Moreover, merit list for MPhil and PhD programmes is also under process, he stated. He maintained that HEC believed in person to person and institution to institution relations, therefore it invited faculty members of Afghan Universities to stay and work in Pakistan. He further reiterated that HEC will provide support in Quality assurance and human resource development of Afghan Education System. He advised Afghan students that in view of the vulnerabilities that the two nations had faced since 1979, it was time that they spend energies on only constructive activities.