ISLAMABAD - Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, said on Sunday that there was a huge construction boom all over Pakistan and Azad Kashmir which would provide ample opportunities for local and foreign investment.

The president made these remarks while interacting with a Chinese delegation that called on him here in Islamabad. The delegation comprised of Jiang Bing, Vice President China Nantong Sanjian Construction Group (CNTC), Ding Nan, Business Manager CNTC and other CNTC officials.

The president warmly welcomed the delegation and invited them to visit Azad Kashmir and explore new avenues of investment. He informed them that AJK amid its political stability, peace and strengthening economy would provide a conducive environment for foreign investors along with opportunities for forming public-private partnerships.

The president further said that AJK, owing to its huge youth bulge, 85 percent literacy rate, growing middle class, trained workforce, availability of raw material, had a huge potential for investment, especially in the construction sector.

Masood informed the delegation that the Chinese Government had been actively investing in AJK for the past three decades. He added that with the formal inclusion of Azad Kashmir in the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor, 4 projects had exclusively been earmarked for this region which included Karot (720 MW), Kohala (1124 MW) Hydro-power projects, Special Industrial Zone in Mirpur and the Mansehra-Mirpur expressway.

The president said that after the 2005 earthquake, China had assisted in the reconstruction of Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot and Bagh in AJK which was an affirmation of the brotherly relationship enjoyed by the people of the two countries.

Azad Kashmir, said the President, enjoyed the lowest crime rate in the region and had always attracted foreign investors. “In recent years, South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been actively involved in the reconstruction and development projects all over AJK,” he added.

The president said on the occasion that special initiatives had been taken to introduce skill development courses for the youth, enabling compatibility with current market trends. “We will be producing skilled graduates to cater to the dynamically growing job market of AJK and the region,” he said.

Bing briefed the President about the working of CNTC. He was told that CNTC was initially established in 1958 as a state-owned enterprise, and was currently one of the largest private sector construction conglomerate working in all provinces of China and over 20 countries around the world. “CNTC specializes in construction of roads, pre-fabricated housing, construction materials and real-estate development,” said Bing.

Dr Khalid Rafique, Director General AJK IT Board was also present at the meeting.