Tuesday, January 6, 2009


by Trueman

           Last Sunday, the 4th of Jan. 2009, I was watching “Jawabdeh” the Pakistani version of BBC’s HARDTalk show by Geo News. The interviewer was channel’s most popular anchorman Iftikhar Ahmad, who is known for his razor sharp questions - questions that baffle even the sharpest, the wittiest and the wisest guy. At the grinding disc of Itikhar now was none else than the young prime minister of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Ateeq Ahmad Khan.

           Though presently the PM is facing a no confidence move in the Assembly, he appeared very confident to emerge successful over what he called move by a bunch of legislators who could hardly muster 2-3 seats in the AJK Assembly.
But politics apart, the most important aspect of this Q & A session was young PM’s approach towards a policy of dialogue vis-á-vis his father’s on Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. Quite logically did he respond to pointed questions raised by I.A. and apprised the latter on salient features of phased withdrawal of Pakistani and Indian forces from both parts of Kashmir. A step which, he said, will pave way for a gradual move towards a permanent solution of Kashmir dispute, a solution which would guarantee a face saving formula for all stake holders.

           Another idea which this writer found highly innovative was Saradar Ateeq’s approach on development and promotion of Tourism in Azad Kashmir. Hitherto A.K. has been an area where only Pakistanis could see the touristic attractions of this paradise like part of the valley. Foreigners were allowed only on a special permit to visit the area.

         During my personal visits to Azad Kashmir I saw lot of developments, which were done during the administration of former prime minister of the state. But this wonderful developmental work was shattered during the terrible earthquake in Oct. 2005. Extensive efforts were made ever since and the life in the affected areas has almost come to normal. Now the state administration endeavors to go beyond restoration and is intending to surpass development much above the pre 2005 level. It is good news that the present prime minister of A.K. recognises the importance of tourism in the economy of the state. We are confident that if he seriously follows up his own initiative, the area of Azad Kashmir can definitely turn into a touristic paradise not only for domestic but also for our foreign guests.

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