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Pakistan finalizes $63M education package for Afghan students

Package to benefit 8,250 Afghan undergraduate, graduate students, and teachers, says official

ISLAMABAD

Pakistan has finalized an Rs11.2 billion ($63 million) education package for Afghan students and plans to establish a university campus in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, a senior official said on Monday.

The Ministry of Education and Professional Training package “includes 3,000 scholarships, free training with stipends for 5,000 Afghan nationals, free training for 150 Afghan teachers, 100 nursing diploma scholarships, and the establishment of an AIOU (Allama Iqbal Open University) regional campus in Kabul to improve the education sector and skill development,” a senior Pakistani government official told condition of anonymity, as the package is expected to soon be announced by the prime minister or foreign minister.

The AIOU in Islamabad is the country’s largest university, and its chancellor is Pakistan’s president.

During acting Afghan Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani’s first visit to Pakistan last month, the University of Management and Technology in Lahore also announced 100 scholarships for Afghan students and 10 Ph.D. scholarships for teachers and researchers to support education in the war-torn country, the officer added.

“Pakistan is making a significant contribution to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” he said. “So far, we have offered enormous relief assistance to Afghan people to help them in this difficult time.”

Last November, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced over $28 million medical, food, and other humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan owing to the economic crisis that emerged after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in mid-August.

Last week, Pakistan also dispatched a team of engineers and technicians to Afghanistan for installation and commissioning new medical equipment worth Rs 2 billion ($11 million) in various Afghan hospitals.

“We are helping the Afghan people in these difficult times as last month our medical teams arranged free eye camps in Khost province and carried out 424 surgeries,” the official said.

Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated his country played a crucial role in the safe evacuation of nearly 80,000 people from 42 countries and nationalities, including diplomats and UN officials, from Kabul.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged Rs5 billion ($28.3 billion) in aid to Afghanistan, with the first consignment already on its way, Qureshi said.

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