Note: the initial report on Ambassador’s visit to Scotland was published in Nov 19th 2013, we do apologise for re-publishing this detailed report a bit late.
HE Dr Yaar Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in United Kingdom visited Scotland as the guest of the Asia Scotland Institute – www.asiascot.com – last year 7th to 9th November. The principal purpose of the visit was for the Ambassador to meet those interested in developments in Afghanistan as part of the Institute’s Ambassadors’ Briefings series and connect with the educational community to explore opportunities for cooperation and the provision of scholarships for Afghan students. Whilst in Scotland, visits were paid to the universities of Edinburgh, St Andrew’s and Strathclyde. On two separate occasions Dr Yaar also met with servicemen and women who had been in Afghanistan to thank them personally for their service.
Following a lunch over which those present exchanged views on how Scotland and Afghanistan might cooperate in different areas the Ambassador and Mrs Yaar visited the Parliament building and met with Humza Yousaf, Zoe Mochrie and Yvonne Strachan. In a broad ranging discussion the following matters were highlighted:-
1. Both parties would explore the drawing up of a Protocol covering Education and Science and Technology. The intention would be to make a commitment to joint cooperation in these different areas.
2. The importance of educating young people and especially women was agreed and the fact that Scotland’s schools and universities were well positioned to assist in this. There was plenty of scope to increase the present somewhat limited number of Afghan students enrolled on courses in Scotland. There would be an examination of avenues for matched funding of scholarships through the Arts Council.
3. Afghanistan’s needs in most areas of infrastructure and project management presented opportunities for Scottish companies and professionals to assist in these fields to include agriculture and land management and the development of the country’s water resources.
4. Scotland’s reputation in areas such as mining and alternative and renewable energy made it a natural partner for Afghanistan.
5. Afghanistan would plan to participate in the Water Conference scheduled for early April 2014.
6. A possible visit to Scotland by President Karzai could be the occasion to ratify any Protocol or Agreement in advance of Afghan national elections in 2014.
As Dr Yaar subsequently visited St Andrew’s and the University of Strathclyde, the exchange of views continued on ways of developing opportunities for Afghan students to enrol at Scottish universities and there was enthusiasm to pursue this on a Scotland wide basis. In Glasgow the Ambassador met with members of the small but flourishing Scottish Afghan Society – www.scottishafghansociety.org.uk – and they hosted a meal for him. The Society will forge a link with the Asia Scotland Institute and may develop links in the arts and crafts field.