WORK is on track to set up the first nursing university in Pakistan funded by Bahrain.
Pakistan Ambassador Muhammad Ayub said the King Hamad University of Nursing and Associated Medical Sciences in Islamabad will not only strengthen ties between the two nations, but also open doors for future medical co-operation.
Mr Ayub was speaking to the GDN as Pakistan celebrates its 75th Independence Day today.
“We are grateful to His Majesty King Hamad for this royal gift to the people of Pakistan during his 2014 state visit,” the veteran diplomat said.
“All operational and other hindrances have been cleared and the project is on track.
“We continue to work with the King Hamad University Hospital in Bahrain that is closely working on the project.”
The ground-breaking ceremony of the proposed university was held in Islamabad in December last year.
The National Logistic Cell is handling the project, the designs of which have been inspired by a private university in Bahrain, added Mr Ayub.
“It will be a nursing and allied sciences college for women, but we are working on the finer details and contracts have already been signed,” he added.
Pakistan officials had previously stated that the new university is expected to cater to 2,000 students and offer advanced programs.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to have nursing and medical universities, and this project, once complete, will benefit both Pakistan and Bahrain as we will have a pool of talented healthcare staff,” he said.
The ambassador added that relations between the two countries have shown remarkable progress, and praised Bahrain’s leadership for their vision.
“I would really like to put on record my own personal observation that Bahrain is an amazing place and has achieved so much because of the wise leadership,” he said.
“For example, the successful handling of Covid-19 and free vaccination drive for citizens and expatriates are striking aspects of the society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
On the trade front, Mr Ayub said figures for 2021-2022 showed that bilateral trade reached $150 million in goods and $80m in services.
“There is, however, still room for improvement,” he added.
“Bahrain’s exports to Pakistan are mainly aluminum, iron, petroleum and synthetic fiber and Pakistan’s exports include fruits, vegetables, textiles, sports accessories, among others.
“I would like to focus on three areas of trade co-operation – food security, education and tourism.
“If we look at food security, Pakistan has fertile land and is the fourth largest producer of dairy milk, and one of the largest producers of halal meat products.”
Mr Ayub said Bahraini investors can also tap into the tourism sector in Pakistan by working on infrastructure and hospitality projects.
“Not many are aware that we have a beautiful town called ‘Bahrain’ located in the scenic Swat valley in Pakistan.”
The envoy further added that more than 1,500 tourist and business visas were issued last year and this does not include Bahrainis who availed the visa-on-arrival facility in Pakistan.
“We are working with relevant authorities including the Pakistan International Airlines for special tour packages,” he said.
“We are also trying to attract Pakistani tourists to Bahrain.”
Bahrain is home to more than 100,000 Pakistanis, with some families arriving as early as in 1940s.
Meanwhile, the diplomat added that Pakistan Navy has been actively participating in international operations to ensure peace and maritime security in the region.
Pakistan Navy is currently commanding the Combined Task Force (CTF 151): Counter Piracy, which is one of four task forces under the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces, the largest international naval partnership in the world.
Pakistan Navy had also commanded CTF-150 12 times which is a rare distinction and during its last command of CTF-150 under Commodore Vaqar Muhammad, from January until June this year, the coalition seized more than 16,000kg of narcotics with a street value of about $109m.