MUZAFFARABAD: US Ambassador Donald Blome and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas on Tuesday held discussion on a host of issues at a meeting at the latter’s private residence in Bangoin village of Poonch district.
According to an official press release, Mr Ilyas expounded a proposal to the US ambassador regarding the establishment of a special economic zone, dry port, investment in tourism and hydropower generation sectors in AJK.
He said AJK had a huge scope for human resources which could be utilised to provide outsource services, consultancy and Information Technology (IT) services.
He also mentioned the role of small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and arts and crafts business in improving the region’s economy as the global volume of dealings in the sector stood at around $600 billion.
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“Azad Kashmir also possesses huge potential in this sector which if properly exploited can turn out to be highly beneficial for growth of its gross domestic product (GDP),” said the PM.
Mr Ilyas also referred to the AJK’s highest literacy rate across the country and underlined the need for launching an academic exchange programme between the highest seats of learning in AJK and the US.
Under this programme, after studying for two years in AJK universities, the Kashmiri students should get an opportunity to study in the US universities for one year before returning to their parent institution in the final year or final semester for completion of their degree, he said.
The US ambassador was assured that theAJK government would fully facilitate American companies in tax and other matters once they entered into agreements with it for investment in different sectors. The prime minister also drew the attention of the ambassador towards the worsening situation in India occupied Kashmir and expressed the hope that Washington would play its much-needed role to resolve the lingering dispute, which had been the main cause of rights violations in the occupied territory.
The PM also expressed his gratitude to the US government for the aid and assistance it had provided in relief and rehabilitation of the survivors of the 2005 earthquake.
He appealed for an increase in the USAID programme and assistance for the victims of recent floods, the damages caused by the climate change and protection of the archaeological sites in AJK.
However, there was no word in the press release on Mr Blome’s response to the AJK premier’s proposals.
Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022