China-Pakistan Study Center (CPSC)
“CPEC & AJK”
March 11, 2021
The China Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a Roundtable today. The panel of experts included: Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI; Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI; Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Professor, National Defence University; Mr. Zulfiqar Abbasi, Former President, Azad Kashmir Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Iqbal Ratyal, Former AJK Civil Servant, Mr. Ershad Mehmood, Director Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR); Dr. Samina Sabir, Assistant Professor, AJK University; Dr. Rukhsana Khan, Assistant Professor Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, AJK University and Mr. Tahir Murtaza, Civil Society Representative.
Opening the panel discussion, Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC said that since its inception, CPEC has yielded benefits for people from across the country. The large scale projects focus on energy, connectivity and industrial growth. The initiation of such projects is essential for development and prosperity in the region. However, there is always a possibility of certain challenges that can hinder the implementation of projects of this magnitude, he said.
In his remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI said that the CPEC has become an essential component of the Pakistan-China bilateral relationship and stressed the need to ensure smooth implementation of CPEC projects in AJ&K. He also highlighted the barriers which need to addressed to facilitate investment in the region.
During the discussion, participants agreed that CPEC will bring prosperity in the region by developing infrastructure and creating employment opportunities. Further a tourism corridor can also be developed vis a vis CPEC. The Government of Pakistan should give priority to other projects such as the 4M and the Special Economic Zones and not just focus on energy projects. Bureaucratic barriers should be removed for private investors so that they can be made stakeholders in CPEC. Moreover, local community’s skills should be developed and economic opportunities need to be generated. The panellists suggested a comprehensive one roof mechanism for resolving isses related to CPEC in AJ&K.