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MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan on Wednesday asked Special Communications Organisation (SCO) to upgrade its telecom infrastructure to help the government provide specialised telehealth and long distance learning facilities, respectively to the patients and students in far-flung areas of the state.

“E-health and e-education are becoming a new reality of present time which not only reduce unnecessary costs but also create greater efficiencies and multiply productivity,” said the president during a meeting with Maj-Gen Ali Farhan, Director General of the SCO.

The president appreciated the efforts of SCO for providing telecom facilities to the people of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan in a challenging environment since its inception in 1976.

He stressed the organisation should further upgrade its services to facilitate the students in remote areas to use technology in the classrooms for enhancing the learning and improving academic performance.

The Information Technology Board of AJK government will fully cooperate with the SCO in putting in place such facilities in different areas of Azad Kashmir, the president maintained.

Emphasizing the need of close cooperation and coordination between AJK’s public sector universities and SCO, Mr

Khan said hundreds of graduates passing out every year from the varsities with degrees in various technologies including telecom could also be absorbed in the organisation.

He also underlined that people living along the Line of Control (LoC) especially those in Haveli and Neelum Valley should be provided with both landline and mobile phone services on a priority basis.

“The provision of phone services will significantly help address the problems being faced by the people living along the LoC,” Mr Khan said.

He was of the view that with its youthful and diverse population, Jhelum Valley of Muzaffarabad division could be the turned into Silicon Valley.

Earlier, Maj-Gen Farhan told the president that SCO had been providing telecom facilities to the people of AJK and GB for over 40 years without much concern about profit- generation.

The SCO, he said, had successfully executed Pak-China Optic Fibre Cable project for the establishment of first ever land-based connectivity with China.

This was the only project so far planned and executed under the framework of CPEC and had been declared as an early harvest project by the government of Pakistan, he said.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019