COLOMBO: Pakistan’s new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Maj. Gen. (r) Muhammad Saad Khattak on Monday announced his country’s decision to offer 1,000 fully-funded scholarships to Sri Lankan students while meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The envoy also met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on the same day.
The Pakistani high commissioner said the scholarships would be offered under the Pak-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Program, allowing Sri Lankan students to pursue undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degree programs in a vast array of fields, such as engineering, medicine, information technology, and social sciences, in Pakistan.
The scholarships are open to students of all faiths.
“This program has already been given wide publicity in Sri Lanka. The final deadline for submitting applications for the scholarships is this Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020,” the high commissioner noted.
He added that Pakistan’s higher education authorities would soon visit Sri Lanka to interview the applicants.
“Pakistan is also keen to offer scholarships to students studying in Sri Lanka in terms of monetary funding,” elaborated the High Commissioner, recalling that during President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure, his country offered a similar scholarship program. “This was extended to children of servicemen, especially those who sacrificed their lives to their country.”
Pointing out that the two countries were already enjoying good military ties, the high commissioner explained that he was also concentrating on promoting trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The Pakistan mission in Colombo is already organizing a conference and a seminar in April where the business communities of the two countries would interact.
President Rajapaksa also commended Pakistan for the excellent work done in promoting Taxila – an important Gandhara city that used to have popular Buddhist and Hindu centers of learning – and promised to extend Sri Lanka’s support in this regard.
The high commissioner said he was particularly interested in taking more Sri Lankan goods to the Pakistani market.
The two parties also discussed cooperation within the SAARC region and the benefits of strengthening the regional organization. On the cooperation in multilateral fora, the high commissioner said, “We have always stood by you, and we will continue to stand with you.”