MIRPUR (AJK)-AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said the government was giving top priority to promoting education in the state.

Addressing a scholarship awarding ceremony at the University of Kotli, the president said that merit-based admissions and appointments in AJK universities would be prioritised in order to ensure the highest standards in the education sector. He said that in the coming years, quality education facilities would be available in all the district headquarters of AJK. Recently, Haveli sub-campus (University of Poonch, Rawalakot) has been established at Forward Kahota and seminal work on Palandri sub-campus (Mirpur University of Science and Technology), and Abbasspur sub-campus (University of Poonch) have begun, and will be completed in the coming months.

He said that new disciplines would be introduced at graduation level in order to help match curricula to the dynamic job market and enable successful placement of fresh graduates. Highlighting the economic and industrial revolution unfolding in Azad Kashmir, especially due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the president said that special emphasis will be given to technical skill development to cater for the jobs generated in the coming years due to CPEC.

He said that Azad Kashmir has 5 public sector universities, 2 cadet colleges and dozens of degree colleges. He added that qualitative success in education will only be achieved with the promotion of research, innovation, and requisite international exposure to the faculty and students. “Establishing a knowledge-based economy is pertinent for the prosperity of Azad Kashmir and its people,” said the president.

He said that Azad Kashmir is rich in human capital, which must be effectively exploited for the benefit of the region. He added, “We need to focus on innovation, research, entrepreneurship, and a trained workforce fully acquainted with the operating environment in AJK.”

Stressing a need to effectively highlight the Kashmir issue, Masood urged the students to use modern communication tools to approach their international peers, the foreign media, think tanks, academic institutions and civil societies. He said that Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir are being mercilessly murdered, harassed, maimed and incarcerated every day. “It is our duty to advocate the unarmed struggle for right to self-determination of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, and expose the rotten face of the occupier,” he said.

The president also laid the foundation stone for the new female hostel and awarded scholarships to deserving students and high achievers. The event was also attended by Vice Chancellor Kotli University Dr Syed Dilnawaz Ahmad Gardezi, heads of departments, senior faculty members and students of various departments of Kotli University.