MIRPUR: Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan Thomas Kolly Wednesday visited AJK’s capital town and called on AJK President, Sardar Masood Khan at the Presidency. Both the leaders discussed the matters of mutual bilateral interests of the friendly countries of Switzerland and Pakistan.
The AJK President while welcoming the Ambassador and his accompanying delegation said that both Pakistan and Switzerland enjoy friendly diplomatic relations which are based on mutual trust, amity and cooperation.
During the meeting, the Swiss Ambassador said that constructive steps are being taken to explore opportunities in enhancing people to people ties between the Switzerland and Pakistan in the fields of cultural and educational exchange programs, trade, tourism and other spheres of socio-economic corporation.
President AJK said that Switzerland is ranked as one of the top five foreign investors in Pakistan, thereby making it an important trade and investment partner and he expressed the hope that the trade volume between Pakistan and Switzerland is increased to commensurate with the true potential of both countries.
Ambassador Kolly said that the growing long-term investment by Swiss multinational companies reinforces the bilateral ties and speaks of their confidence in the growing economic market of Pakistan.
Speaking on the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, President Masood Khan said that India has unleashed a wave of terror in IOK, where under the guise of so-called cordon and search operations, houses are raided, young Kashmiris are killed, illegally detained and subjected to torture.
The President said that peaceful protesters are not allowed to assemble and demand their right to exercise their right to self-determination.
President Masood also highlighted the recently published report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which comprehensively points at gross human right violations taking place in IOK, including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, illegal incarcerations, and hundreds of unmarked graves.
The President said that on the other hand, in comparison to IOK, AJK has the lowest crime rate and highest educational score in all of Pakistan, and has huge potential for encouraging foreign investors especially in the tourism industry, hydropower generation, extractive industry and similar developmental projects.
The President also thanked the people and government of Switzerland for their assistance in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake which hit major parts of AJK and northern areas of Pakistan.
He also appreciated the role of Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation which has undertaken many programmes focusing on food security, accessibility to fresh water and migration.
President Masood Khan said that like Switzerland, Azad Kashmir has huge potential for eco-tourism due to its geographic terrain and scenic beauty.
He said, even though the tourism industry in AJK is in still rudimentary, with the help of the government and professional tour operators we hope to establish quality motels, hotels, log huts, theme parks and guided tours for visitors coming to AJK, especially along the newly proposed 200 km long tourism corridor.
Afterwards, the Ambassador’s delegation also had an informal interaction with Senior Minister Tariq Farooq, Finance Minister Dr. Najeeb Naqi, Minister for Industries and Mineral Resources Ms. Noreen Arif, and
Minister for Sports and Culture Chaudhry Saeed, at a reception held at the Presidency.