KARACHI: President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan has urged the Business and Industrial community of Karachi to explore the abundant opportunities in AJ&K’s mineral sector and set up industrial units there in order to provide the required expertise and skilled workforce which is capable to prune precious and semi-precious gemstones.
Exchanging views during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), AJ&K President added that some work was being carried out to only extract precious and semi-precious gemstones but this was not happening at the industrial level. Hence, the business community of Karachi must take advantage of this opportunity.
Senator Saleem Zia, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Former Presidents KCCI AQ Khalil, Haroon Agar and Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra along with KCCI Managing Committee members were also present on the occasion.
AJ&K President was of the view that Kashmir was blessed with abundant natural and mineral resources, which can offer lucrative opportunities to the businessmen and industrialists of Karachi. “The huge quantities of precious and semi-precious stones, marbles, graphite, coal, chalk, bauxite and many other mineral resources can not only be supplied to the local markets but can be exported to foreign markets as well”, he added.
He said that the AJ&K government has initiated construction work of several new roads, which were being linked to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) whereas many of the existing roads were also being revived in order to improve the overall infrastructure. Moreover, expansion of two airports in Muzaffarabad and Rawlakot was also being considered along with the expansion and renovation of railway network. “This means we are focused on improving all three modes of transportation i.e. air, rail and roads which is needed to improve the economic and tourism activities across Kashmir”, he added.
Sardar Masood Khan informed that AJ&K currently produces 1500MW of electricity whereas its demand stood at 400MW only and the remaining electricity was being supplied to the national grid. Upon completion of some ongoing energy projects, including several hydropower projects being established by China, AJ&K will be able to produce 8700MW of electricity which will be further added to the national grid, he said, adding that the Neelum-Jhelum Power Project has almost reached its completion.
He stressed that the business community of Karachi can also benefit from the construction of hydropower projects in Kashmir as these project will definitely require lots of outsourcing.
He said that AJ&K government was also taking steps to improve the quality of education whereas more hospitals will also be constructed in 10 district headquarters of AJ&K with an intention to ensure availability of health facilities even in far-flung areas of Kashmir.
He further informed that two industrial zones were already operational in Kashmir whereas one more such zone, which is part of CPEC project, will also be constructed in AJ&K which will be fully equipped with all facilities for the business and industrial community. “AJ&K will surely encourage the business and industrial community of Karachi to become part of this zone. My office will always be at your disposal and we will act as facilitator”, he added.
Commenting on law and order situation in AJ&K, he said that it was one of the most peaceful region where not a single terrorist incident was taking place. “The crime rate in AJ&K is the lowest. People belonging to different religions and sects live in complete peace and harmony across Kashmir”, he added.
He was of the view that Karachi city, being the financial and economic heart of Pakistan, needs to be uplifted as the uplift of this city will result in the uplift of entire Pakistan. He was fairly optimistic that keeping in view the pace of economic development, Pakistan will surely become one of the strongest economies of the world in future.
Expressing deep concerns over the martyrdom of hundreds of innocent people in Indian-occupied Kashmir, constant abuse of Kashmiri women and imprisonment of many Kashmiri leaders, he said that there was absolutely no solution to Kashmir issue without the participation of Kashmiris and Pakistanis. He urged the United Nations Security Council to take notice of Indian army’s brutality against innocent Kashmiris which has been widely reported by many human rights organizations including the Amnesty International.
Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, in his remarks, stated that AJ&K was blessed with abundant natural and mineral resources whereas its agriculture sector was also capable of attracting investment.
He noted that the official rate of unemployment in AJK was around 13 percent which was twice as high as the rate of unemployment in Pakistan which requires a result-oriented strategy.