A two-day international conference on indigenous resources management, challenges and opportunities concluded here the other day.

Organised by the University of Management Sciences and Information Technology (UMSIT), the moot was first ever successful academic endeavor in the history of AJK.

Over 300 national and international scholars of different universities and research institutions presented their research findings in the conference. International scholars, who could not attend the conference owing to some unavoidable circumstances, presented their research findings in skype sessions. Dr Peter Hook, professor emeritus of Michigan University USA, was the keynote speaker of the skype session.

UMSIT Chancellor and AJK President Sardar Yaqoob Khan was the chief guest whereas Vice Chancellor Dr Ghulam Ghous presided over the inaugural session.

Dr Sabahat Akram, coordinator of the conference, said that all indigenous resources including natural and cultural resources be explored, protected and utilised for the wellbeing of the local population of the region and for the people of AJK in particular.

He said promoting and protecting diversity is essential for a prosperous, peaceful and pluralistic society. Biological, cultural and linguistic diversities are interconnected and their protection, preservation and promotion are equally important for the sustainable development, he added.

He demanded promotion and protection of local languages through implementation of mother tongue based multilingual education was underlined. He said the governments, private organizations, and individuals must work together to confront the threats to the indigenous resources and explore opportunities to utilize them.

He also demanded formulation of tourism legislation and regulations by AJK government; community participation for pollution control & waste management system. Education of sustainable tourism at schools and colleges; and training in tourism and production of skilled man power for a sustainable tourism industry.

He demanded basic infrastructure, communication and uninterrupted power supply and fuel/gas to the people of the Neelum Valley to bring the marginalized population at par with rest of the region, and that cross LoC and cross Himalayan religious tourism and cultural tourism be initiated.

He stressed a need for the Use of IT to enhance the efficiency of researchers, universities and other institutions; and promoting industry-academia linkage for developing the knowledge based enterprise Sector.

Dr Ishtiaq Khaliq of TAARC, UK, Dr M Khan of National Defense University, Dr Sonia and Dr Daniele Montaiene of Basque University, Spain, Krishna Kumar of Tribhuvan University, Nepal and Brandon Baughn of SIL International, USA, gave their talk in the first plenary session. Over three hundred national and international scholars presented their research findings in seven parallel technical sessions as the conference had seven sub themes.

Eminent scholar and former secretary Sohail Akram chaired the concluding session. He gave a thought provoking talk on the indigenous resource of AJK and presented data regarding the natural resources of AJK and their management issues. He underlined the need for revisiting the national policies regarding the hydro and mineral resources of AJK.