Politicians, journalists and others to be trained in US -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Politicians, journalists and others to be trained in US

KARACHI: Political and civil society leaders, journalists, students, teachers, civil servants and legislative staff from Pakistan would be visiting America over the next two years as part of Washington’s 2010 Agenda based on trust-building through scholarly and professional exchanges.

The present US government is keen to see Islamabad and New Delhi engaged in a direct dialogue.

This was stated by US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson in her remarks on “Our Common Language, Our Shared Values” at a meeting organised by the English Speaking Union (ESU) here on Thursday. Among others ESU President Naveed A Khan, Senior Vice President Abdul Kader Jaffer, Secretary General Shahida Jameel and members of the ESU Executive Council and the Executive Committee attended the meeting.

“In 2010, ‘Getting Things Done’ is our primary goal… For the year 2010 we will be working very hard to deliver on our promises – and we expect no less from our partners,” she added. Unveiling the US 2010 Agenda focused on “building mutual understanding” with Islamabad through a wide range of scholarly and professional exchanges and internships, she said her government would invite nearly 200 Pakistani leaders, including many newly-elected political leaders, to visit the United States for the first time on group programs tailored to their professional responsibilities.

She expressed the hope that during their visit, the Pakistani participants will be able to exchange ideas and techniques with their American counterparts. “We also have set aside $4 million for joint Pakistani-American science and technology projects,” she said.

Under its Professional Internships programme, Washington over the next two years will be sending 140 journalists, 100 civil servants and 55 legislative staff to the Parliament, Provincial Assemblies and local councils to work alongside their US counterparts, she said.

About the academic and youth exchanges programmes, she said currently her government was supporting the study for 100 MA and 50 PhD degree candidates from Pakistani university faculties to study in the US. “Over the next two years, we will also be recruiting over 30 mid-career professionals in a number of areas to participate in non-degree professional development on US campuses. We are also planning to bring American scholars for short term teaching and research assignments at Pakistani colleges and universities,” she added.

Patterson said over the next two years the US will invite 100 Pakistani college students to spend a semester on US campuses; another 100 students will be invited to receive technical training and academic skills development at US community colleges; about 110 high school students will be invited to study at American high schools and live with American host families; and about 50 college students will be invited to participate in special summer leadership and regional studies-programs on US college campuses alongside their American partners.

She said over the next couple of years her country would support English language in Pakistan through expanding professional staff and engagement with the Society of Pakistani English Language Teachers (SPELT), updating teaching materials, training local English language teachers both here and in the US.

“But mutual understand (ing) means mutual study, so we are also inviting a few capable teachers (from Pakistan) to sharpen their English language schools by teaching in American colleges and universities – to American students trying to learn Urdu!” said the US ambassador.

She said in 2010, her government was also planning to establish 80 classrooms of after-school English programmes for students in some of Pakistan’s poorest neighbourhoods. She said the US would ensure that “a share of” the $7.5 billion civilian aid under the Kerry-Lugar Bill is spent to support new initiatives that will strengthen the quality of basic and higher education in Pakistan.

According to the US envoy such programmes will provide skills training and modelling of American professional and public service traditions, while affording young leaders an opportunity to exchange ideas while working together. Lauding an Indo-Pak peace initiative, “Aman ki Asha”, launched by a local media group jointly with Times of India group, Patterson said Washington supported direct dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi.

She said these kinds of private people-to-people initiatives were giving her government all hope that this year Pakistan and India will be able to restart their important dialogue. “Let us dispel once and for all the canard that America does not care about Pakistan,” Patterson said.

About the ESU activities, she said the union through the use of English, a common language of Pakistan and US, was strengthening democratic practices in the South Asian country. “Indeed the Union’s mandate to “develop friendship and goodwill between the people of Pakistan and other countries, by actively encouraging communication, discussion and debate” is a pointed statement about cross-cultural communications and engagement,” she said.

Earlier, in his address of welcome, ESU President Naveed A Khan referred to the $55 million US aid for South Waziristan’s rehabilitation saying such positive steps were indicating that Washington was fulfilling its promises under its strategic partnership with the crises-hit Pakistan.

He said the America was one of the instant choices for Pakistani youth to study in not because New York was Pakistan’s political or strategic ally, but for the simple reason that the quality of education there was good. Later, the ESU office-bearers also presented a shield to the US ambassador.

Source: Business Recorder