Altaf Hameed Rao
MIRPUR (AJK): The under-construction mega China-Pakistan Economic Corridor â€“ the CPEC project will open new avenues of speedy socio economic progress and prosperity bringing the economic boom in Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir, said Ch. Muhammad Saeed, AJK minister for Sports, Culture, MDA and MDHA.
â€œAzad Jammu & Kashmir State would also be the beneficiary of the gigantic project since four projects have been approved under CPEC â€“ including Kohala and Karot Hydropower projects respectively in Muzaffarabad and Kotli districts, the Quadruple Expressway from Mansehra to Muzaffarabad-to Mirpur to Mangla and the already-approved 9th Special Economic Industrial Zone to be set up in Mirpurâ€ , the minister while speaking as chief guest at the Annual General meeting of AJKCCI-turned-Mirpur Chamber of Commerce & Industry here Tuesday night.
The outgoing President of the MCCI Ch. Sohaib Saeed, outgoing Vice President Nawaz Rattayal, newly elected President of the Chamber Choudray Muhammad Murtaza, newly elected Sr. Vice President Syed Sabir Hussain Shah, Vice President Syed Shmraiz Hussain Shah, ex President AJKCCI Raja Muhammad Jamil, Secretary AJKCCI Muhammad Shafique Chaudhry, heads of their respective factions of Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran Sohail Shujah Mujahid and Raja Khalid Mahmood Khan and others also spoke on this occasion and highlighted the issues and bottlenecks in the way of industrial development in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
The ceremony was largely attended by the members of the business fraternity experts from various state-run and public representative organizations and institutions including PML (N) Professional wingâ€™s Chairman and President Jinnah Foundation AJK Dr. Amin Chaudhry, ex President AJKCCI Ch. Javed Iqbal, Khalid Mahmood Butt, President PANAH AJK chapter Baboo Muhammad Sideeque and others.
Highlighting the broad-based healthy prospects of the arrival of CPEC in Azad Jammu & Kashmir the minister Ch. Saeed continued that CPEC in AJK would not only be an opportunity for infrastructure development, energy and industry but also a catalyst for promoting ecotourism and establishing biological and wildlife corridors. Biodiversity sites along the Corridor will be preserved and developed.
Azad Jammu & Kashmir, he underlined, is ideal for eco-tourism because that too is an emerging industry. It is our responsibility to preserve our natural habitats with as much seriousness as we pursue industrializationâ€. â€œWe are also striving to get a tourism corridor included in the framework of CPECâ€, he added.
With the advent of the proposed Mirpur special economic industrial zone as an economic hub, Azad Jammu Kashmir would tap into the professional and technological experience of Chinese and Pakistani entrepreneurs, Ch. Saeed said.
Elaborating the salient features of the CPEC and its upcoming unprecedented impacts on socio-economic progress of AJK, the minister said â€œunder the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its affiliate – CPEC – China has undertaken to provide advanced and sophisticated technologies. The Governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir too would diligently make sure that this zone does not cause environmental degradation and in fact meets the highest environmental standardsâ€, he added.
The government, minister said, was exploring clean energy options in AJK. â€œSolar energy consumption is gaining ground and it is also necessary to identify wind corridors for generation of wind power or developing solar-wind hybridsâ€, he revealed.
The minister emphasized the need of highlighting, adequately, the concrete measures which have been taken by Chinese and Pakistani planners and their corporate entities to incorporate environmental dimensions in CPECâ€™s land and marine projects. He called for focusing to achieve the objectives of the project which we will have to develop an overall socio economic development culture. â€œThe AJK Government, he said, is fully committed to doing soâ€, he added.
Earlier the outgoing President of the AJKCCI Ch. Sohaib Saeed referred to the laurels, the chamber earned during his last two years terms in office towards the progress in industrial development in AJK in general and Mirpur particular. He also underlined the problems confronted by the local business community.
The newly elected MCCI President Ch. Murtaza unveiled his priorities to turn the Chamber into a vibrant institution for the speedy industrial development and progress of AJK in true perspective.
The Secretary MCCI Muhammad Shafique Chaudhry announced on this occasion the results of the unopposed elections of all the office bearers of the Chamber including its President Ch. Murtaza, Sr. Vice President Syed Sabir Shah, VP Syed Shamraiz and newly elected executive committee members of the Chamber.