‘Pakistan’s development assistance to Afghanistan reaches US$ 1 billion’
BEIJING: Pakistan Ambassador to China, Masood Khalid said that Pakistan’s development assistance to Afghanistan has reached US$1 billion and the country’s development assistance is geared towards investment in infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and capacity building of Afghan professionals.
Pakistan has made singular contribution in education by extending 6,000 fully funded scholarships to Afghan students while 100 seats have been reserved for women annually, he said in an exclusive interview with a Chinese magazine “China Investment” here.
He informed this year around 750 Afghan students joined Pakistani universities to pursue their education in Pakistan.
Pakistan, he said, has setup healthcare facilities in Afghanistan including three hospitals, i.e, Jinnah Hospital Kabul, Naib Aminullah Khan Loghari Hospital and Nishtar Kidney Center in Jalalabad.
The ambassador said the Pakistan government also initiated capacity building projects for Afghan healthcare professionals, under which 59 Afghan medical professionals including doctors, nurses, and technicians successfully completed their training in 2017.
In addition, 42 Afghan healthcare professionals will start training at Institute of Kidney Diseases Peshawar, he added.
Masood Khalid said that Pakistan is also assisting Afghanistan in capacity building in the fields of agriculture, banking, railways, military and diplomacy.
Multiple Afghan agricultural professionals, have undergone training in “Quarantine and Plant Protection” in Pakistan, he said and added, 20 fully funded scholarships will be provided to officials of Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to pursue their professional studies at Faisalabad Agricultural University.
He said a fresh batch of railway professionals will soon be trained at Pakistan’s Railway academy, Lahore.
The ambassador said that Pakistan aims to continue providing assistance to Afghanistan in different fields for capacity building of Afghan institutions and professionals so that they contribute to the betterment of their people.
In this regard, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China are engaged closely through Practical Cooperation Dialogue. Pakistan and China have asked Afghanistan to identify areas in which the countries could provide necessary training and arrange capacity building courses for Afghan professionals.
In addition there has been a trilateral forum amongst Afghanistan, China and Pakistan on counter-terrorism which is aimed at intelligence sharing and cooperation for curbing the activities of the terrorists groups, he added.
Pakistan, he said, has undertaken concerted and precise counter-terrorism operations in its territory and added this has resulted in the eradication of organized presence of terrorists from its territory. Operation Zarb-e-Azab and more recently Radd-ul-Fasad are focused on clamping down on the remnant elements.
On Pakistan’s plans to strengthen the regional cooperation, he said the regional connectivity is one of the three strands of the trilateral mechanism amongst Afghanistan, China and Pakistan.
The three countries are already engaged under Practical Cooperation Dialogue for exploring further areas of development cooperation. Pakistan is an active member of the Belt and Road initiative.
“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of this initiative and in addition to China and Pakistan, regional countries can benefit from this project.”
Regarding extension of CPEC to Afghanistan, he said that connectivity is the key to exploiting the economic potential of any country or region in modern world.
The connectivity is going to bring shared prosperity for everyone and this is also the basic idea behind the Belt and Road initiative. Pakistan is an active partner of China under the Belt and Road initiative and is working together with China to enhance connectivity in the region through the establishment of road, rail and sea routes.