Soon after the Azad Pattan project signed between Pakistan and China, Indian media started reporting China using Pakistan and Azad Kashmir for multiple ambitions. This insane Indian allegation is laughable. Referring to it, India called it as rejected by the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It is not for the first time that, Indian Media has played game of blaming and naming. Recently, COVID-19 has been used by India as a device to wipe Kashmir off the international diplomatic agenda and under the cover of COVID-19, they have taken two or three, steps. In the past month alone, more than 40 youth have been killed in the cordon and search operations. These are not cordon and search operations stage-managed fake encounters and blasting houses. On July 5, Pakistan and China signed the accord for construction of 700 MW Azad Pattan Hydro Project at a cost of $1.5 billion which will be entirely foreign investment. The Azad Pattan project will involve no fuel import, enabling the country to move towards cheaper and greener power generation while creating local job opportunities. The project is located at River Jhelum roughly 7km upstream of Azad Pattan Bridge in the Sudhnoti District of Azad Kashmir and is expected to be completed in 2026. Earlier on June 25, 2020 an agreement for the launch of 1142 MW Kohala Hydropower Project at a cost of $2.4 billion was also signed. Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project on June 26, 2020. Chinese state-owned power developer, China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), the state-owned power developer, had won the right to develop the dam on January 7, 2015. It is the largest greenfield project among China’s hydropower overseas investments to date. Located in the north-eastern region of Pakistan in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) on Jhelum River, the project has been listed as the “Actively Promoted Project” in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) since August 2014, with both the governments of China and Pakistan keen for fast-track implementation of the project for providing cheap and reliable electricity to the National Grid of Pakistan and AJK. The project is being developed on the ‘build-own-operate-transfer’ basis. The fact is that, these three projects located in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is attracting such huge amounts of direct foreign investment, and this is the actual reason that Indian Media is terming it as illegal. At the time when Pakistan’s economy is in the doldrums, battered by coronavirus. This will surely prove to be a shot in the arm for Pakistan’s economy as well as the economies of both the regions, besides generating much-needed power to transform the agricultural economy into an industrial economy and ensuring energy security. Renewable energy sources produce little or no global warming emissions. The other advantage of renewable energy sources is their perennial availability as against the exhaustible sources of fossil fuels. Yet another appreciable advantage is that the energy produced from them is much cheaper than the one generated through fossil fuels. Ever since the global warming and climate change issues have become the focus of developing as well as developed nations, the emphasis has rightly shifted to meeting energy needs from renewable energy sources. The construction and early completion of the newly-launched hydel power projects will surely change the energy mix of the country besides accruing multiple benefits to its economy including an appreciable cut in the import bill. CPEC is a supplement for AJK’s multifaceted economic development. Azad Kashmir’s growing human capital is its biggest asset which is driving its growth, CPEC should be fully understood and technical studies should be conducted to prepare the ground for the success of Azad Kashmir projects under its rubric. A few years ago, Azad Kashmir was producing roughly 1500 MW of electricity through hydropower sources. Mangla Dam has the installed capacity of 1150 MW while the remaining was being produced by small and micro dams. The total demand for electricity for households, commercial and industrial sectors in Azad Kashmir is merely 400 MW. In 2017, Patrind hydropower project has been completed with an installed capacity of 147 MW. In 2019, Neelum-Jhelum hydropower was made operational, which supplies 969 MW of electricity to the national grid. Azad Kashmir is producing approximately 2616MW electricity altogether and contributing to the socio-economic development of the country. Azad Kashmir is also known for its natural resources and mineral reserves, like gold, potassium, coal and ruby. But these precious resources have never been explored due to financial constraints and the low intent of the government. Therefore, Azad Kashmir has a huge potential to establish the industry of stones and other minerals. This will create job opportunities and contribute to the GDP of Pakistan. Through CPEC, natural resources can be explored, and mining and coal industries should be established to acquire value-added contributions. Furthermore, a special economic zone was allocated in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, but it has not yet been commenced. Certain prerequisites should be met before the start of SEZ, which includes land acquisition, uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas, water supply scheme and highway or motorway facilities. Now, the CPEC authority has been established and is operational. People of Azad Kashmir hope a prompt response from the CPEC authority to start SEZ in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. Our armed forces of Pakistan are prepared, the nation of Pakistan and people in Azad Kashmir are prepared to frustrate any evil designs of India. there are some rumblings that India is planning something. It has been killing Kashmiris since January this year. But after COVID-19 it accelerated the pace of killings of young men. They have accelerated the ceasefire violations, and they have started crafting lies. Last but not least, I will urge our youth and students to counter India’s false propaganda by using the most popular and connected networks of our time, social media – as it is best tool to respond against false propaganda of India.
-The writer is senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief at Daily Country News.