Note: This article discusses Pakistan’s investment in Afghan human resource development, as well as investments in education, essential skills training & infrastructure.
It has now been over a year since the swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, after decades of continuous war, administrative neglect and extreme reliance upon foreign aid Afghanistan today is facing a humanitarian crisis unmatched by previous metrics. Food insecurity, lack of shelter, and other essentials are all issues plaguing the country, and as winter approaches the issue is predicted to worsen further. Furthermore, schools, hospitals, and other social welfare institutions are closing down due to a lack of funds as western aid froze which shines a light on another long-term issue that is the root cause of keeping Afghanistan in the dark.
This issue is the lack of national human resource development. The Afghan nation lacks qualified manpower that can work and lift the nation out of crisis mode. Under these circumstances, Pakistan has emerged as a leading nation that has gone above and beyond to lend assistance to the Afghan people in attempts to develop national human resources via investing in Afghan education, skills training, and material aid.
Pakistan is aware of the repercussions to overall regional stability should the Afghan issue be allowed to persist, hence for the sake of both the Afghan people and overall regional benefit Pakistan has planned and started the process of enhancing Afghan human resources focusing on future economic and social development. This coordinated effort can be better explained by simplifying and sub-dividing into
- Investment into Education.
- Investment into Essential Skills Training.
- Infrastructure & Material Investment.
Investment into Education
Pakistan has annually invested millions of dollars into scholarships, grants, and stipends for thousands of Afghan students. These opportunities are available for both Afghans residing in Afghanistan and Pakistan as refugees. One notable example is the Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program of which the third phase has started (2022-2031). Pakistani authorities acknowledge the fact that unless the Afghan workforce gets developed the country cannot hope to build itself up regardless of how much aid it receives. The key to solving the Afghan issue lies in the long-term organic growth of education and skills where Afghan students receive the education they need and go back home to rebuild their own country constructively.
Furthermore, the lack of women’s education has been noticed in Afghanistan hence a compulsory 1/3 amount of Pakistani scholarships are reserved exclusively for Afghan girls. Furthermore, Pakistani authorities have also for many years encouraged and supported Afghan refugee’s admission into mainstream Pakistani institutions, hoping to establish a sense of brotherhood in future Pak-Afghan generations where both sides can work together for collective benefit. All in all despite its issues limiting Pakistan at home, the nation has committed a large number of resources for the sake of assisting Afghanistan’s human resource to develop and prosper, all of it an investment for achieving long term regional stability and unity.
Investment in Essential Skills Training
By the time US coalition forces had withdrawn from Afghanistan, most of the best educated and skilled Afghan people had already migrated out to the Western and Arab nations resulting in a brain drain. This meant that most Afghan Taliban take over Afghanistan is left with very few people who have the core skills necessary to develop the economy or educate the next generation of Afghans.
Pakistan was long aware of this fact and hence alongside educating young Afghan students in schools and universities, Pakistan has for many years now additionally made great efforts into providing (Afghan teachers, doctors, etc) the skills training necessary to effectively fulfil their crucial roles and gradually build up the country into a welfare state. Already under programs organized by multiple organizations (UNHCR, DCTE, etc.) many Afghan refugee teachers (Especially Afghan women) have undergone Pakistani education curriculum as a way to improve teacher’s capacity to teach either in Afghan refugee schools or in Afghanistan itself and open avenues of higher education for Afghan children.
Another example of Pakistani assistance to Afghans in developing skills is medical training, as hundreds of Afghan doctors were trained in just 2019 alone (Training in PIMs, CPSP, etc.). Afghan healthcare personnel have received training in the treatment of common health hazards in Afghanistan alongside treating war-caused injuries. All this is done in hopes of allowing Afghanistan’s fractured health care system to revive and support other sectors of the Afghan economy. Pakistan has also provided guidance to Afghans in other fields such as engineering, agriculture, etc., all of it an investment for ensuring a prosperous Afghanistan future.
Infrastructure & Material Investment
Regardless of how much foreign aid Afghanistan receives or Afghan students/doctors/teachers are trained, it is ultimately pointless if the Afghan infrastructure itself is inadequate to support its human resource development back home. Hence to cover its mission of developing Afghan national human resources from all angles, Pakistan has also invested heavily into building schools, universities, vocational training Institutes, hospitals, etc alongside providing equipment to run those institutions. For reference, Pakistan has built Sir Syed Post Graduate Faculty, Liaquat Ali Khan Engineering Faculty, Rehman Baba School, and many more all across Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan has also provided either directly or funded equipment such as school buses, thousands of school kits, and electronics.
Overall Pakistan has heavily invested in the lengthy process of developing Afghan human resources as Pakistan is deeply committed to securing a long-lasting peace in the region. This is only possible if Afghanistan is allowed to develop and is freed from the chains of conflict. Pakistan is aware and is hoping to work towards helping create a more peaceful Afghanistan and foster relations of brotherhood & goodwill to facilitate trade between the two nations.