MIRPUR (AJK)

Appended with a short documentary film, a research study has revealed a significant expansion and bright future of tourism industry in top mountainous scenic Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu Kashmir after ceasefire on the LoC between India and Pakistan in 2003.

This was observed by the speakers at the launching ceremony and symposium held in Muzaffarabad the other day.

AJK Information Minister Syed Bazil Naqvi, Director Conciliation Resource London Sardar Tahir Aziz, Deputy Commissioner Muzaffarabad Masoodur Rehman, Executive Director Center for Peace Development and Reforms (CPDR) Ershad Mehmood and Mrs Tanveer Lateef were among the key speakers on the occasion who highlighted the huge natural potential and bright future for promotion of tourism industry in this part of the AJK.

The ceremony was largely attended among others by civil society activists, government officials and media personals. For many years during Freedom movement in Kashmir, Neelum Valley, a tourist attraction bordering Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, has been a combat zone between both neighbouring atomic powers.

Muzaffarabad-based right group and think tank Press for Peace launched the research report and documentary film “The Valley in Search of Peace, Socioeconomic Development in Neelum Valley” is directed and produced by veteran Kashmiri broadcast journalist Amiruddin Mughal.

Amiruddin Mughal and Raja Waseem, Director Press for Peace briefed the participants about objectives of the report and film. The film and research report, that deeply scanned pre and post ceasefire scenario, was termed an in-depth study of socioeconomic condition and peace initiatives by residents of Neelum Valley.

“Film gives an insight into struggle and life standard of people,” said Bazil Navi, Information Minister while speaking on this occasion. “In-depth study could be helpful in planning tool for government to ensure economic development in the area,” Naqvi added. Naqvi also admitted the budget cuts and cumulative non-development expenditure as a major drawback in development of AJK.

Speaking on this occasion Amir ud Din Mughal said “tourism and cottage industries have potential to generate enormous job opportunities in Neelum Valley”. “But government need to build infrastructure and marketing strategies for local products,” he suggested.

Participants after watching the film appreciated it as a unique effort and approach towards highlighting social issues. Film also elaborates challenges faced by people of Neelum Valley during war between India and Pakistan.

More than 3,000 died around 10,000 injured and disabled, whole infrastructure was collapsed while public and private assets were burnt during 14 years long conflict at the Line of Control. Ceasefire in 2003 has brought a positive change in their lives but still they are concerned about tension between both neighbouring atomic powers.