ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday organised a ceremony on the success of the Allama Iqbal Scholarships Programme for Afghan National Students, which awarded 3000 scholarships to students. The event, which took place at the Pak-China Friendship Centre, had President Mamnoon Hussain as the chief guest on the occasion. Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Afghanistan Higher Education Minister Fareeda Mohmand, HEC Chairman Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal, Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Abrar Hussain, vice chancellors, faculty members and a large number of Afghan students attended the ceremony. In his address, Mamnoon Hussain congratulated the Afghan students on availing themselves of scholarships to study in Pakistani institutions. He emphasised that the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan extended beyond geographical affinity, well into social, cultural, ethnic and business bonds. “We were brothers; we are brothers; and we will remain brothers in all times to come,” he underlined. He hoped that the students would feel at home while pursuing their studies in Pakistan and would go back to serve their country. “You are expected to serve your beloved country and inspire good bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan besides becoming ambassadors of Pakistan in your country,” he urged the students. The President said the purpose of awarding the scholarships to Afghan students was to provide them with the same opportunities of acquiring higher education which were being extended to Pakistani students as well as to develop and progress together. He stressed on the need for promoting mutual trust and foiling the nefarious designs of elements striving to create misunderstandings between the two friendly countries. Sartaj Aziz termed the award of scholarships a milestone in bilateral relations. He vowed that the Pakistani government would continue to support Afghanistan. He added that Pakistan highly valued its relations with Afghanistan, adding that the mutual relations were thriving despite challenges.