MIRPUR (AJK)-Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan announced on Tuesday that he will personally focus on the formulation of youth policy and revival of student unions in AJK in the near future.

He was addressing a huge gathering of youth in Rawalakot city at a policy dialogue organised by renowned Kashmiri NGO Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) in collaboration with the British Council.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Khan stressed the need for more sensitisation of the youth regarding Kashmir issue and expressed his felicitations to the organisers over organising the gathering.

He stated that the AJK youth possesses huge potential and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a new vista of economic opportunities for them.

Highlighting role of the youth, the AJK president advised students and young people to achieve excellence in their respective fields, become active and vibrant civic actors and develop skills to use modern Information Communication Tools in a more strategic and effective way.

To a question about education system, Mr Khan said that he envisions right person for a right job in universities besides minimal political interference and intended to initiate a new degree program compatible with the market needs.

Masood Khan laid emphasis on character-building, upholding moral, social values and meritocracy for good governance in AJK. "Youth and civil society of AJK should support the government for better governance, and we need to introduce reforms both at the micro and macro level to curb the menace of corruption in the society" the president pointed out while replying to a question

Former AJK finance minister Ch Lateef Akbar was also present on the occasion. He, while addressing the youth, spoke at length about the principles necessary for the youth by ensuring merit and transparency. He congratulated the incumbent government for some forward movement in the delivery of good governance. He also pointed out that during the previous PPP Government in the state, 21,000 new jobs were created, adding that the government alone is not capable enough to provide employment on a large scale so it is very necessary for the private sector to come forward.

Sardar Sagheer Chugtai of Muslim Conference and member AJK Assembly applauded the efforts of CPDR for creating such spaces for the youth. He discussed how in his long political career, he is witnessing such initiatives for the first time in Azad Jammu Kashmir where a civil society organisation has not only arranged policy dialogues but also exposure visits to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and AJK Assemblies for young leaders where he had accompanied the visiting young fellows. He stated that Sardar Masood Khan himself is a shining example for the young people of AJK who against all odds rose to the top level of bureaucracy through hard work and commitment.

CPDR Executive Director Ershad Mahmud shared with the audience that 62% of the total population of AJK is comprised of youth which is a huge asset. Hence, the Government must focus on applying bulk of the resources for the development and employment of the youth. He expressed his will and devotion to carry on with this policy of youth engagement and vowed that CPDR will remain committed to providing more and more spaces to the youth for dialogue and discussion.

Dr Waqas Ali, Director Programs CPDR, shared his views with the audience about the necessary steps required for youth uplifting ranging from scholarship schemes for the needy students to reservation of quota for youth in local bodies elections.

Malik Muhammad Wasim, representative of the British Council reiterated the British Council's commitment to the cause of the youth in the region. He spoke about transforming the society through the youth engagement and providing the future leaders spaces to make their voices heard as a vital pre-requisite to a vibrant democracy in the region.