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CPEC a catalyst for connectivity: AJK President

Speaking at a seminar on “Threats to Security in the 21st Century-A Global Way Forward”, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will serve as a tool for peace and prosperity in the region as it will connect many communities and nationalities. He said it is was important for the people to realize the positive impact CPEC is going to create on the security of the region. He further commented on the developments being undertaken in AJK under CPEC, saying that four mega projects including two hydro-power projects, a Special Economic Zone and an Expressway will be built.

LAHORE: Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has said that today the world is in a state of flux dominated by a number of emerging issues, strifes and non-traditional threats which are a risk for global peace and security.The president made these remarks while speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day seminar in Lahore on Threats to Security in the 21st Century – A Global Way Forward, organised by the School of Integrated Social Sciences, University of Lahore.

The president said that the world order must be based on upholding human rights and not dictated by realpolitik, xenophobia and warmongering. If the international rule of law does not become the norm, the world would, once again, plunge into a catastrophic global war, he said.

AJK president said that numerous challenges plague the world today creating disarray like terrorism, insurgencies, asymmetric warfare, civil wars. He added that issues like climate change, demographic changes, cyber conflict, energy deficits, water and food scarcity cannot be ignored.

Warfare, he said, has transcended its traditional parametres and today the use of drones and fourth and fifth generation warfare has transformed the global concepts of war. He said that today, Europe has become a victim of xenophobic and Islamophobic elements, while hate speech and prejudice have become a norm all over the world.

“Unfortunately, the rule of law and human rights has taken a back seat as strategic, economic and political interests has taken precedence in the new world order,” he said.

Projects like the Belt & Road Initiative is aimed at promoting economic connectivity between Asia, Europe and Africa, yet it is criticised by many. He said the world should understand that China Pakistan Economic Corridor is designed for connecting countries, building transnational communities for prosperity and creating conditions for peaceful neighbourhoods.

President Sardar Masood Khan said that Pakistan faces threats from India, the situation in Afghanistan, terrorism, subversion and proxy wars. He said that these existential threats have to be addressed with resolve and dedication. Masood Khan said that peace and stability in South Asia has always been threatened by Indian hostilities towards Pakistan and its constant interventions in the affairs of its neighbouring nations.

Khan said that Pakistan also faces other challenges like poverty, human development, rapid urbanisation, social problems and political instability. He said that we must make conscious efforts in addressing these issues which are directly and indirectly threatening our national security, adding that Pakistan’s economy is going through a radical transformation and “we have yet to achieve our full potential”.

He said despite the challenges, many opportunities also await us. He said CPEC has opened up huge opportunities for Pakistan adding that CPEC is not a substitute but a catalyst that will drastically improve connectivity and promote constructive economic activity within the region. He further said that “our huge youth bulge is an asset but they may end up as a liability if we fail to equip them with modern education and necessary skills. Similarly, we have a huge potential of maritime trade due to our access to the waters of the Indian Ocean giving us access to the Strait of Hormuz”.

Speaking on the situation in Kashmir, the president said that Kashmir is a flashpoint and human rights issue that needs immediate redressal. He said that the international community has adopted dual standards and it is their responsibility to bring India to task over the gross human rights violations taking place in Indian-Held Kashmir.

He said 700,000 Indian occupation forces under the guise of lawless laws have imposed a reign of terror in IHK where the Kashmiris are being openly murdered, illegally incarcerated, women are dishonoured and the Joint Resistance Leadership is kept under constant surveillance.

He said it is our responsibility to raise the profile of Kashmir issue at every international forum. “Even after 70 years of coercive tactics, political manoeuvring, demonising the Kashmiris as terrorists and economic blandishments, India has been unable to fully integrate this region. The Kashmiris until this day are struggling for their freedom and paying for it through their own blood,” he said.

Speaking to his audience on the development projects in AJK, the president said that under the auspices of CPEC, four mega projects including two hydropower projects, a Special Economic Zone in Mirpur and the Mansehra-Mirpur Expressway will be built which are at different stages of planning and implementation.

AJK, he said is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and efforts are being made to make it a top destination for eco-tourism. He said plans are underway to construct a 200-kilometre Tourism Corridor which will pass through all the scenic areas.

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