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Event Title: A delegation of Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs visited Muzaffarabad

Event Date: 2021-11-01

Muzaffarabad: November 1, 2021:- A delegation of Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs visited Muzaffarabad on Monday. The delegation was led by Chairman Committee Senator Prof. Sajid Mir while the delegation also included Senator Farooq H Naik, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Muhammad Qasim, Senator Irfan-ul-Haq Siddiqui.

Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Azad Jammu and Kashmir Dr. Sajid Mehmood Chauhan briefed the delegation of Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs regarding the development projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir during the last three years and future plans.

Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary General Dr.Syed Asif Hussain gave a detailed briefing on Azad Kashmir General Election 2021. Minister for Planning and Development Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chaudhry Muhammad Rashid was also present on the occasion. Briefing the delegation, Additional Chief Secretary Dr. Sajid Mahmood Dchohan said that Azad Kashmir is in a better position than all other provinces of Pakistan in terms of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These include construction of parks, walkways, model cemeteries, beautification of cities, lighting arrangements on major squares and streets, waiting areas, model altars, vegetable markets, bus stands and garbage collection and disposal projects. He said that for the development of the tourism sector, a tourism development program is also under consideration through which projects in the tourism sector would be initiated and developed through public-private partnership so that tourism could be promoted at the local level as well in order to create jobs and increase state revenue. He said that the total budget of Azad Kashmir is Rs. 141 billion out of which development budget is Rs. 28 billion and normal budget is Rs. 113 billion. In the annual development program, 67% is allocated for infrastructure sector and 23% for social sector, while 10% is allocated for manufacturing sector. Azad Kashmir has vast potential in the fields of tourism, hydro electricity and minerals. At present 2700 MW power is being generated in Azad Kashmir. Replying to a question, Additional Chief Secretary Development said that in view of the importance of media, the digital media project of the Information Department has been initiated so that government initiatives and Kashmir issue can be internationalized. In response to another question, he said that keeping in mind future requirements, 125 km of highways and 2,165 km of link roads will be constructed in Azad Kashmir so that the road connectivity can be made available for every citizen of the State. 42% of Azad Kashmir consists of forests in which rehabilitation of forests is being done by the Government of Pakistan under the Ten Billion Tree Project and with the funding of the Government of Azad Kashmir. Projects have been initiated with public participation to protect the river, which will improve the environment and promote tourism. On the occasion, Prof. Sajid Mir, Chairman, Senate Standing Committee, said that suggestions should be sent to the government of Azad Kashmir. Later, Additional Chief Secretary General Dr. Syed Asif Hussain briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs regarding the last general election in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. A Coordination Cell was set up which conducted the elections in the best possible manner with the support of all the departments. Elections were held in consultation with the leaders of all political parties, national leadership and other relevant institutions, in which all facilities were provided to the media to monitor the elections under IT and GIS-based management. He informed the delegation that the turnout in the recent elections was 65% while the total number of voters were 3.2 million including about 17.5 million male voters and 14.5 million female voters. He said that they were  also working on facilitating Kashmiris abroad to cast their votes. Public Health Secretary  Major General Ahsan Altaf, Secretary Finance Ismatullah Shah, Secretary Physical Planning and Housing Mansoor Qadir Dar, Secretary Works Ghulam Bashir Mughal, Secretary Local Government and Rural Development Ejaz Ahmad Khan, Secretary Planning and Development Dr. Muhammad Bashir Butt were also present during the meeting. At the end of the briefing, Minister for Planning and Development Chaudhry Rashid presented a souvenir to Senator Prof Sajid Mir, Chairman, Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs.