LAHORE: Punjab Governor Malik Mohammad Rafique Rajwana has said that Pakistan and Afghanistan should work for strengthening bilateral relations and no third country should be allowed to disrupt our ancient bonds.
Addressing the scholarship award ceremony to 3,000 Afghan students under the HEC’s Allama Iqbal scholarship programme at a local hotel on Thursday, he said no one could prompt us to swerve ties.
The 3000 scholarships will offer studies opportunities to Afghan students in Mesicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Management, Computer Science and Business Studies and other other fields over the next five years while 100 scholarships had been dedicated to girl students only. The first phase of the scholarships was launched in 2009 and some 3000 students had returned to Afghanistan after completing their studies in Pakistan.
Addressing the ceremony, the governor said Pakistan did not have one ambassador in Afghanistan rather 3,000 ambassadors were working for strengthening relations between the two countries.
Rajwana said the differences, if any, between the two counties could be overcome through cultural exchanges like this, adding that people-to-people contacts were vital to bring to an end our differences. He said the couturiers with their vested interests wanted to see us apart.
“The more countries invest in education, the more these develop”, Rajwana said, adding that this way we could contribute to peace and development in Afghanistan and region.
The governor said peace in Afghanistan was in the best interest of Pakistan, stressing both the countries had suffered a lot in fighting others’ wars.
He urged the youth who are to lead Afghanistan tomorrow to be good ambassadors of change and contribute to the development of their country.
Speaking on occasion, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omer Zakhilwal said better days were ahead in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and current misgivings, grievances and negativities were short-lived.
The Afghan ambassador said the things were moving in the right direction on the diplomatic front, adding that he was hopeful of
better ties between the two countries.
About the Pak- Afghan relations, he said the relations would converge into the natural shape of relations which involved people-to-people contacts.
He said the people-to-people relations between the two nations could not be destroyed by anybody, stressing that the tribal, linguistic, religious common historic relationships in trade and commerce will re-emerge into a strong bond.
Omer Zakhilwal said the improved bilateral relations were very important for both the countries and these students would serve as agents of change.
The diplomat said that the relations between the two countries were multi dimensional and these 3,000 thousands scholarships holders would multiply into thousands more when they would serve Afghanistan in different capacities in near future.
He said the bonds these students had established in Pakistan during their stay here would help strengthen the ties between the brotherly countries. He said the experience and expertise they had got in a Pakistan would help in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan but would also rebuild relations between the two counties.
He said there was not better way of strengthening the bilateral relation between the two countries than extending educational scholarships to Afghan students, adding that these students were the future politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats of Afghanistan and their Pakistani classfellows would enjoy the same status which would help bring the two nations closer.
The Afghan ambassador said the both the nations had common heroes in Ahmad Shah Abdali and Mehmood Ghazanvi, adding that the great saint of Lahore Hazrat Ali Hajveri (Data Gunj Bakhsh) had his origins in Afghanistan.
He said the Poet of the East Allama Mohammad Iqbal enjoyed equal
popularity in Afghanistan as a poet and thinker, adding that the scholarship was rightly named after Allama Mohammad Iqbal.
He said Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only two countries in the world which enjoyed such multi-dimensional relations and enjoyed such strong centuries old culture, heritage, geography, language religion, trade and commerce ties.
Dr Omer said the ups and downs in the relations did not reflect the wishes of the people of the two countries, adding that the relationships were sure to improve in the coming days.
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasarullah Khan said the Pakistan embassy in Kabul was the second home to Afghan students and embassy doors were open to them.
He said Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoyed broad based and multi dimensional relationship. He urged people-to-people contacts, adding that the scholarships would help bring the generations come closer and bridge gulfs.
Advisor to Afghan Acting HEC Minsiter Amanullah Faqiri read out the message from the Afghan Minsiter.
Earlier, Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed welcomed the guests
and talked about the salient features of the second phase of the scholarship programme for Afghan students.
Two scholarship holder Afghan students, currently studying in UET and COMSATS, also read out their messages on the occasion.
Vice chancellors from public and private universities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, media persons from Afghanistan, teachers and a large number of Afghan students were present during the ceremony.