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Joining CPEC Stop being facilitator to Delhi, Masood tells Mufti

Says emphasis is being given to accelerate the pace of economic development

Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Masood Khan has said that occupied Kashmir’s puppet Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s wish to join CPEC can only be made possible if her government ceases being a facilitator to Delhi’s oppressive rule in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and also if Indian forces halt cross-border fire over the Line of Control and the working boundary.

He made these remarks at the inaugural session of the panel discussion titled ‘Kashmir at Present: Quest for Empowerment and Progress’ organised by the Alumni Association of National Security Workshop (AAN) of the National Defence University (NDU) at the Presidency in the state capital on Saturday.

The ceremony was at-tended among others by Major General Mohammad Sarnrez Salik, ISSRA Director General Lt Gen (R) Agha Muhammad, ministers of AJK government, alumni of NDU, senior military and civilian officers, vice chancellors of AJK public sector universities and a large number of student Highlighting the priorities of the present AJK government, the president said special emphasis is being given to three key elements, namely: accelerating the pace of the freedom movement for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris; good governance; and economic development.

The president said on the occasion, Azad Kashmir is poised to start off an economic revolution that is being catalysed by the AJK government with the active collaboration of the federal government of Pakistan. He said without good governance economic development cannot take off in a holistic manner and thereby, the AJK government has taken a series of steps to promote meritocracy, the rule of law, access to justice, accountability and transparency.

The current government of AJK, he said, has stimulated economic activity by investing heavily in socio-economic development projects, especially in the sectors of infrastructure development, road construction, hydro power generation, promotion of tourism, industry, agriculture, next-generation telecommunications connectivity, high-quality education, and universal access to health. Masood Khan said work has also been initiated on building a cascade of hydro power projects throughout Azad Kashmir.

In the coming decade, a total of 5,000 to 6,000 MWs of energy will be produced indigenously in Arad Kashmir from hydro power projects to be built at Karot, Kohala, Mahl, Azad Pattan and Dudniyal, he said. He said after fulfilling AJK’s own demand, the rest of the generated energy will be sent to the national electricity grid and will, in turn, contribute to the economy of Pakistan.

Being a treasure trove of minerals, Azad Kashmir has vast deposits of marble, granite, phosphate, graphite, bentonite, bauxite, gold and coal, in varying quantities, along with some of the fin-est reserves of ruby, sapphire, topaz, and tourmaline. Through research, enterprise, use of sophisticated machinery and public-private partnerships, minerals can be extracted through modem means to gain maximum output; all the while taking appropriate measures in protecting the environment.

Industries in AJK include small and medium-sized enterprises producing textiles, paper, pharmaceuticals, automobile, tyre and rubber, plastic, pipes, shoes, furniture, flour, rice, food, crush, and handicrafts, President Masood said.

He said under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a special economic zone will be built in Mirpur which will provide an opportunity to specialised industries with investment opportunities. “Operations of this zone will be buttressed by another mega-project under CPEC, namely, an expressway from Mansehra to Mirpur that would cut across the entire territory of Azad Kashmir and connect it to the central artery of CPEC”, he added.

AJK president said with the exponential growth in tourists visiting Azad Kashmir, a reliable road network and a chain of motels, theme and sports parks, and development of reservoirs, sanctuaries, and historical sites will be built. A special’ Tourism Corridor’, he said, would also be built which starting from Saran Chilcar and after passing through Ganga Choti, Haji Pir, Toli Pir and Banjosa would end in Devi Galt.

The president said with five universities, three medical colleges, two cadet colleges and scores of post graduate colleges AJK also enjoys the highest literacy rate and educational scores in the whole of Pakistan in terms of enrolment, retention, learning and gender parity.

He said AJK’s government has three goals relating to education which include ensuring high-quality education at all levels, building an interface between the academia and industry, and promoting compatibility be-tween university curricula and the demand for skills and jobs generated by con-temporary market trends. Azad Kashmir, he said, is hospitable for investment and constructive steps will be taken to incentivise private entrepreneurs’ participation in Azad Kashmir and create salutary conditions for ease of doing business. He invited entrepreneurs, the diaspora community and private investors from all over to explore the growing economic opportunities AJK has to offer. This, he said, would also address the unemployment issues faced by the educated youth of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking about the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, the president said:

“Because of the Indian atrocities in IoK, we are a traumatised as our kith and kin living across the LoC are suffering grievously. We as a nation are incomplete with-out Kashmir.”

‘Courtesy Express Tribune’

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