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US and Pakistan further cooperation

In mid-April, following the signature of a memorandum of understanding with Pakistani authorities in Islamabad, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced its support for the creation of three centers for advanced studies at three Pakistani universities. With American aid, these centers are to support the development of Pakistan's water, energy, and agriculture sectors through applied research, training for specialists, university linkages, and contributions towards policy formulation.

The USAID sponsorship will amount to USD 127 million (EUR 95.7 million), for a period of five years. The three centers are to the established as follows:

  • the Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Punjab;
  • the Center for Advanced Studies in Water at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Jamshoro; and
  • the Center for Advanced Studies in Energy at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad, while a satellite center for energy will be established at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar.

This project is expected to further the collaboration between Pakistani universities and universities in the United States, and to help fund joint applied research, support student and faculty exchanges, and academic progress.

This recent initiative comes against a background of a severe reduction in the number of aid projects in Pakistan by the United States, in an effort to focus and improve the distribution of funding in the country. Created in 1961, USAID has been the main US agency to provide assistance to countries recovering from disasters, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms. The agency is currently active in more than 100 countries.

US Embassy in Pakistan - press release