‘AJK can prove to be economic engine of Pakistan’s progress’

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This was stated by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan. — AFP/File
This was stated by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan. — AFP/File

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) can be turned into the economic engine of Pakistan’s progress through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative by ensuring effective and comprehensive planning.

This was stated by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan in his keynote address as chief guest at a daylong national conference on ‘Special Economic Zones: Future Prospects and Potentials’ on Tuesday.

The conference was organised by the CPEC Centre of the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (UAJK) in collaboration with Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

The opening ceremony was also addressed by UAJK Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Kalim Abbasi and Hassan N. Ansari, Director (strategy and projects) JW SEZ group.

The president made it clear that AJK was very much part of the CPEC and there was no truth in the otherwise rumours.

“Of the four projects envisaged under CPEC in AJK, one has been completed, two have seen preliminary planning completed while the fourth – Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mangla-Mirpur Motorway – will commence during next fiscal year,” he said.

He urged all universities, academia and media across the country to not only effectively highlight the dividends of CPEC but also counter negative propaganda against this game changer for Pakistan.

The president maintained that of the nine special economic zones, envisaged under CPEC, one was located in Mirpur and 1,185 acres of land had already been identified for it.

In the first phase, 571 acres would be acquired, while the remaining 614 acres would be purchased in the second phase, he said.

Mr Khan said that feasibility study including environmental study, topographic survey and other technical formalities of Mirpur special economic zone had been completed and submitted to the Chinese officials.

Special incentives had been offered by the AJK government for investment in Mirpur economic zone, including tax-free import of machinery and other equipment, construction of infrastructure and permission to prospective investors to generate their own electricity to run industries at the local level, he said.

Mr Khan told the audience that the AJK government had set up a Board of Investment (BOI) to attract investment by local and foreign investors, particularly the overseas Kashmiris, and work was in progress on a comprehensive policy to protect the capital of the investors and to restore their confidence.

Earlier, Dr Abbasi threw light on the efforts of CPEC Centre for projection of economic corridor project in their real perspective.

A ‘memorandum of understanding’ was also signed at the opening ceremony by Dr Talat Shabbir, director China-Pakistan Study Centre of ISSI, and Dr Ayesha Sohail, dean faculty of arts, UAJK, for cooperation between the two institutions in the field of education and research.

Later, two academic sessions were also held, with seven speakers from leading institutions.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2019