MIRPUR (AJK)-Swiss Ambassador in Pakistan Thomas Kolly Wednesday called on AJK President Sardar Masood Khan at the Presidency.
Both the leaders discussed the matters of mutual interests between the friendly countries of Switzerland and Pakistan. The AJK President while welcoming the Ambassador and his accompanying delegation to Azad Jammu Kashmir said that both Pakistan and Switzerland enjoy friendly diplomatic relations based on mutual trust and cooperation.
During the meeting, the Swiss Ambassador said that constructive steps are being taken to explore opportunities in enhancing people to people ties between Switzerland and Pakistan in the fields of cultural and educational exchange programmes, trade, tourism and other spheres of socio-economic corporation.
He said that Switzerland is among the top five foreign investors in Pakistan thereby making it an important trade and investment partner. He expressed the hope that the trade volume between Pakistan and Switzerland increased to commensurate with the true potential of both the countries. Ambassador Kolly said that the growing long-term investment by Swiss multinational companies reinforced the bilateral ties and spoke of their confidence in the growing economic market of Pakistan.
Speaking on the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, Masood said that India has unleashed a wave of terror in IOK, where under the guise of so-called search operations, houses are raided, young Kashmiris are killed, illegally detained and subjected to torture. The President said that peaceful protesters are not allowed to assemble and demand their right to self-determination.
President Masood also highlighted the recently published report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which comprehensively points at gross human right violations taking place in IOK, including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, illegal incarcerations, and hundreds of unmarked graves.
The President said that on the other hand, in comparison to IOK, AJK has the lowest crime rate and highest educational score across Pakistan, and has huge a potential for encouraging foreign investors especially in the tourism industry, hydropower generation, extractive industry and similar developmental projects.
The President also thanked the people and government of Switzerland for their assistance in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake which hit major parts of AJK and northern areas of Pakistan. He also appreciated the role of Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation which has undertaken many programmes focusing on food security, accessibility to fresh water and migration.
He said that like Switzerland, Azad Kashmir has a huge potential for eco-tourism due to its geographic terrain and scenic beauty. He said, even though the tourism industry in AJK is in still rudimentary, with the help of the government and professional tour operators we hope to establish quality motels, hotels, log huts, theme parks and guided tours for visitors coming to AJK, especially along the newly proposed 200 km long tourism corridor.
Afterwards, the delegation also had an informal interaction with Senior Minister Tariq Farooq, Finance Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi, Minister for Industries and Mineral Resources Ms. Noreen Arif, and Minister for Sports and Culture Chaudhry Saeed; at a reception held at the Presidency.
Meanwhile, Swiss ambassador called on AJK Chief Secretary Mian Wahiduddin. The Chief Secretary apprised the Swiss envoy about latest situation in occupied Kashmir with particular reference to the gross violation of the human rights in the held territory.
The Chief Secretary said that Indian occupation forces are committing the worst state terrorism against the non-combatant civilian in the occupied valley and are using worst kind of coercion to silence the voice of Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.
He said that people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have full freedom and democratic rights in line with the resolutions of United Nations but the same is not available to the enslaved population living on the subjugated side of the Line of Control.