Islamabad: (Parliament Times) Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, said that Azad Kashmir is ready for absorbing investment in multiple sectors including tourism and the extractive industry. Over time, he said, Azad Kashmir would also be ready to receive foreign tourists and foreign direct investment on a large scale.
He made these remarks while talking to Mr. Haroon Sharif Chairman Pakistan Board of Investment/ Minister of State who called on the President today at Jammu and Kashmir House.
The President said that Azad Kashmir is developing facilities for scenic tourism, historic and archaeological tourism, religious tourism and eco-tourism. The Government of Azad Kashmir is regularly holding tourism galas, which have also featured adventure tourism including zip-liners and para-gliding. Now, he said, the emphasis would be on the development of chairlifts, ski-resorts, hiking and water sports.
Chairman BOI said that as Pakistan makes efforts for attracting foreign investors in different sectors, it would also showcase the possibilities that exist in Azad Kashmir. Pakistan, he said, would especially focus on the development of investment partnerships with Malaysia, Turkey, the Gulf countries, China and Western Europe. In this regard, he said, breakthroughs are expected. He assured the Azad Kashmir President, that Azad Kashmir would feature prominently in BOI’s investment outreach efforts in the sectors of industry, agriculture, health and tourism.
The President informed the Chairman BOI that currently, the Government of Azad Kashmir was focusing on improving road infrastructure development and upgrading accommodations for tourists to Azad Kashmir, whose number have been increasing over the years. In 2010, 500,000 tourists used to visit Azad Kashmir but now their numbers have increased to around 1.5 million, he said.
Talking about minerals and precious stones, the President said that industrial activities in these areas are at an embryonic stage. Until 2005, some foreign firms had also established their enterprises; but now, he said, our major challenges are to introduce modern extraction machinery, to be sensitive to the environmental requirements and to promote craftsmanship for polishing and cutting of precious stones.
The President expressed confidence that Azad Kashmir is on its way to becoming an economic engine not only for itself but for the northern region of Pakistan. This kind of transformation, he said, would be supported by thousands of graduates from public sector universities and professional colleges of Azad Kashmir.