ISLAMABAD - Approximately 50 Pakistani undergraduate students received scholarships from the American government to study in the United States for one semester under the Undergraduate Semester Exchange (UGRAD) Programme for Pakistan.

During their stay in the US, the students will attend undergraduate classes at 42 colleges and universities, participate in workshops to develop leadership skills, and engage in community service projects.

Before leaving Pakistan, the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) welcomed the students to a two-day pre-departure orientation in Islamabad to learn about campus life, American culture, and visa and travel requirements.

The Acting Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy in Islamabad personally greeted the students in the orientation. “The United States has a long tradition of embracing international students,” he noted. “While it seems obvious that you are gaining a life-changing experience, it is actually a two-way street. We in the United States also gain so much from your examples of hard work and dedication to your studies, as well as your willingness to share Pakistani culture with us.”

The students come from all regions of Pakistan and represent 27 public and private universities. Since the UGRAD Programme launched in 2010, approximately 2,391 Pakistani students have previously received this prestigious one-semester scholarship to study in the United States.

USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar encouraged the students to take full advantage of the academic, extracurricular, and community service activities available in the United States. “Global UGRADs are selected on merit from thousands of applicants from every part of Pakistan. In many cases, they are the first person from their locality ever to travel to the United States.

They spend a semester studying in colleges and universities in parts of the United States where there are very few other Pakistanis, so American students also learn a lot about Pakistan through this exchange.  We hope you meet a lot of interesting people on your adventure and that you share your U.S. experiences widely when you come home to Pakistan.”

US COVID-19 vaccine donations to Pakistan to surpass 77m doses

The US COVID-19 vaccine donations to Pakistan will surpass 77 million doses following an agreement to ship 16 million paediatric doses from the United States to Pakistan in partnership with COVAX. The new donation was announced at the conclusion of the first US-Pakistan Health Dialogue in Washington, DC.

An additional $20 million in USAID funding is also planned to support vaccination efforts in Pakistan. Since the start of the pandemic, the US government has provided nearly $70.4 million in direct support and $13.8 million in in-kind support to assist the Pakistani people in the fight against COVID-19.

The United States is the single largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan. In addition to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the United States recently donated four mobile testing laboratories through USAID to Pakistan’s National Institute of Health worth $4.6 million.  These labs will strengthen Pakistan’s ability to diagnose COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, especially in remote and underserved areas.

Previously, the United States provided Pakistan with more than 1.2 million N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, 52,000 protective goggles, one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic tests, 1,200 pulse oximeters, and 200 ventilators for 64 Pakistani hospitals – all of which helped save lives and protected people across Pakistan.

Emphasising the strong bilateral health cooperation and thanking Pakistan for their continued partnership in fight against COVID-19, US Ambassador Donald Blome said, “Throughout our 75-year relationship we have strengthened our cooperation and partnership, and that is most evident in our joint efforts to combat and end the transmission of COVID-19 in Pakistan. We will continue to work side-by-side to tackle this once in a lifetime public health challenge.”