Cultural Attache of Embassy of Afghanistan to Pakistan
Q: Afghanistan has rich cultural heritage and for that matter how Pakistan and Afghanistan can enhance cultural cooperation? Indeed, Afghanistan has a very rich culture. Archeologists believe that every inch of this land has archeological significance. There are thousands of archeological sites some of those are excavated while a large no are yet to be excavated and studied. At the Heart of Asia, and a major route of the ancient “Silk Road” Afghanistan connected the ancientWorld. Afghanistan and Pakistan share many things including religion, history, culture and traditions. Similarly, culture being a unifying force can further bring closer the two brotherly Nations. The highly celebrated cultural and historical figures of the two Nations such as Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi (also known as Rumi), Sanayee Ghaznavi, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Pir Rokhan, Rehman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and many others are equally honored and respected by people of both countries. The great Sufi and preacher of Islam HazratAliHajvairi (known as Data Ganj Bakhsh) came from Ghazni to spread the light of Islam throughout sub-continent. Similarly, the Afghan conquerors, Ahmad Shah Durrani andMahmood Ghaznavi are also considered heroes in Pakistan. Looking at these unique commonalities, we have to further enhance cultural cooperation through joint cultural festivals, academic seminars on common personalities, cultural exchanges and enhancements of people to people contacts between the two countries. Q: Are there any links that exists between Afghan and Pakistani media? What are the prospects to extend the hands of cooperation in this regard? Yes, recently through several media exchange programmes journalist from Pakistan visited Afghanistan and vice versa to become familiar with their neighbors. The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture and other national and international media and civil societies have arranged such initiatives to further improve these links. Last year, we shared draft MoU's in the areas of Culture, Media and Tourism with Pakistani side to have principal agreements in increased cooperation in these areas. We hope that these MoU's can further facilitate activities in media, culture and tourism sectors. The enhancement of cooperation in the media and civil society sectors can also help to eliminate misunderstandings and filling the trust deficit on both the sides. Q: Many ofAfghan students travel to countries in the region for their higher education, trainings, research and sharing of the learning. How many Afghan students are there in Pakistan? What kind of prospects you see for them in Pakistani educational institutes? Pakistani educational institutes? Education is one of the top priorities for the Afghan Government. We are highly thankful to our friends for contributing to this sector. Pakistan is also among key supporter to education field in Afghanistan. Pakistan has given around 2,000 scholarships to Afghan students in Pakistani institutes. To date nearly 1,000 students are already enrolled while remaining are yet to come. In addition to these scholarships, Pakistan remained highly generous in allowing education opportunities to Afghan refugee students. Based on rough estimates over 10,000 Afghans are enrolled in various Pakistani institutes in private capacities. Q: What are the various steps that can be taken to improve the cultural and educational linkages between Afghan and PakistaniUniversities? At present there are very low-profile linkages exists among the Universities of both the countries, which have to be expanded. Although there were some MoU's signed between some universities but to date those were not practically implemented. Q: What is your message for the people of Pakistan? Looking at the shared history, common religion and culture Afghanistan and Pakistan has unique similarities. Lets unite and struggle for a peaceful, stable and prosperous neighborhood. By believing in coexistence and mutual respect we can have enduring partnership for a developed and secure Pakistan andAfghanistan.