AJK to be the next economic engine of Pakistan: Masood Khan

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Muzaffarabad: (Parliament Times) Terming innovation as key in successfully exploiting the human resource and economic potential of Azad Kashmir, the President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Ahmed Khan has said that given the massive natural and human resources the AJK would be the next economic engine of Pakistan.

“With a massive youth bulge, strong middle class, high literacy rate, mineral resources, natural beauty and growing economic activity, Azad Kashmir is a welcome sight for investors and entrepreneurs”, the AJK president said this while addressing the participants of the 22nd Senior Management Course, National Institute of Management, Karachi who called on him at the Presidency in Muzaffarabad.

On the occasion, President Masood Khan spoke in detail about the working of AJK Government, development projects, regional issues and the prevailing political and human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir. “Innovation is key in successfully exploiting the human resource and economic potential of Azad Kashmir”, he said.

The President further added that to cater to the unemployment among the educated youth, the Government is focusing on encouraging private local and foreign investors. This will not only boost economic activity but will also create diverse job opportunities, he said.

The President said that currently AJK is producing 1500 MW out of which a surplus of 1100 MW is being contributed to Pakistan’s National Grid. Azad Kashmir boasts massive potential for hydropower production, and in the coming years projects totaling over 8000 MW will be completed in Azad Kashmir, he said. “After fulfilling Azad Kashmir’s projected 1500 MW demand for household and commercial needs, we will still be able to contribute a surplus of over 5000 to 6000 MW to Pakistan.”, the President added.

President Masood Khan said that Azad Kashmir has been formally endorsed as a part of the China Economic Corridor. Under the CPEC initiative road infrastructure, power generation and development of industries have been prioritized. Korat (720 MW) and Kohala (1124 MW) hydro-power projects along with a Special Economic Zone in Mirpur which will be connected to the main artery of the CPEC Western Route via the proposed Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mirpur Expressway have been identified for Azad Kashmir under the auspices of CPEC.

“Azad Kashmir is on its way in becoming Pakistan’s next economic engine”, said President Masood Khan.

The President said that with an 85 % literacy rate, Azad Kashmir has the highest education score in all of Pakistan. “We, by the Grace of Allah, have scored the highest in learning, retention, enrolment and gender parity among all other regions of Pakistan”, said the President. Despite its relatively small area, Azad Kashmir has 5 Public Sector Universities, 3 Medical Colleges, 2 Cadet Colleges and numerous Degree Colleges.

President Azad Kashmir said that we have achieved quantity and now our Government is focusing on quality education. We, he said, aspire for modern educational facilities with experienced faculty and research based curricula which would not only bring us at par with national universities but also make our universities regionally competitive.

Azad Kashmir’s Government, said President Masood Kahn, is exploring modern techniques and looking for opportunities to encourage public-private partnerships in exploiting its mineral resources and promote the local extractive industry. Azad Kashmir is blessed with massive deposits of marble, granite, phosphate, graphite, bentonite, bauxite, gold and coal, in varying quantities, along with some of the finest reserves of ruby, sapphire, topaz and tourmaline.

Responding to the questions of the participants the President said that Pakistan has been targeted for its principled stance on Kashmir. President Azad Kashmir said that Pakistan is the only sovereign window for the Kashmiri people. He thanked the people and Government of Pakistan for its bold and resolute support to the cause of Kashmir.

The President said that accession of Kashmir to Pakistan is an incomplete agenda. He said the Kashmiri people are facing human right violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir. India is using brute force against the innocent unarmed Kashmiris whose only demand is their right to self-determination.

The President urged the officers to use their influence and access to expose the true image of India as a terrorist state. India is violating international humanitarian laws and committing war crimes in IOK, he said. IOK’s demography is maliciously being distorted by settling non-Kashmiris in Jammu which is in clear contravention of international conventions and laws.

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