AJK president not satisfied with reconstruction
13 January 2008
MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Kashmir President Raja Zulqarnain Khan feels unsatisfied with the pace of reconstruction and rehabilitation work but is hopeful that the authorities will compensate the delay through the best planning and execution of development projects. “I am yet to be briefed by the authorities (on reconstruction issues) in detail but whatever progress and pace has so far been there, I am not satisfied with it,” he said in an interview with Dawn. “The difficulties of the government aside, we have wasted a long time. Now the authorities concerned ought to plan and execute every project efficiently. This delay can only be compensated through the best planning and execution,” he added. The president also made it clear that the new infrastructure of the AJK University, pledged by the Saudi government, would be constructed at Chattar Klas, the site which was initially proposed for the $133 million project but was dragged into controversy after the government announced that Langarpura village was suitable for it. “In my view Chattar Klas is the suitable place for the university. I have decided it would be built there and I wish the construction work to begin at the earliest.” He said he had directed the chief secretary to initiate proceedings for acquisition of land in Chattar Klas. However, he said, he was open to any reasonable views by the people of Muzaffarabad as well as the members of faculty. When asked if he was in disagreement with the prime minister over any issue, like the reconstruction of the varsity, he denied any conflict or discord with him. “Under the Constitution, prime minister is the chief executive, whereas I am the constitutional head. We don’t go beyond the book,” he said. On his concerns about the Mangla Dam upraising project, he said since the affected people were offering the great sacrifice for the prosperity of Pakistan their problems must be looked into in true perspective. He said the basic demand was that every married couple should be treated as a separate family and compensated accordingly. “The financial implication of this demand is only Rs6 billion which is a peanut when compared with the gains from the project to the country,” he said. He also disclosed that extension project was progressing at snail’s pace and was one year behind its scheduled completion period and added that raising of water level in the dam would not be allowed until the basic demands of the affected people were met. To a question, he said the uncertain situation in Pakistan had overshadowed the Kashmir issue, interrupting the significant move to resolve all disputes through peaceful means. “Though the progress of peace process was also slow but the current situation has suspended it altogether,” he said. He noted that settlement of Kashmir issue hinged on Pakistan’s stability, strength, prosperity and persuasiveness. He expressed the hope that with the installation of new government in Pakistan, the Kashmir issue would also make some headway. The AJK president also supported free movement of Kashmiris through all natural routes across the Line of Control without any procedural complications. “The state subject certificate of every Kashmiri should serve as a spot-card without any requirement of application for the trans-LoC movement,” he said.