The vision of Green and Skilled
Kashmir adopted by the Attique government in AJK like Bhutto’s Roti, kapra Aur
Makan is potentially a comprehensive socio-economic agenda yet is adoptable as a
popular slogan. This is strength of a programme that at every level of polity
people can identify themselves with it. For scholars and experts it may be a
complete and complex social and economic programme but for common man it is
simple and crisp; Plant trees or learn a skill and earn more. Unfortunately
Bhutto’s Roti, kapra Aur Makan was instantly branded as socialistic. The Green
and Skilled Kashmir in comparison is home-grown. It is not difficult to trace
its ideological orientations in indigenous Islamic and Kasmiri origins. Ideas
like conservation of nature and respect for working classes are deeply embedded
in Islamic and kasmiri traditions. Another strength of the idea as economic
programme is that it is based on traditional areas of comparative advantage for
Azad Kashmir. Azad Kashmir is known for its green resources. Almost 42 % of the
area of the state is under forests and major portion of state-revenue comes from
exploitation of its green resource. Similarly the quality of human resource in
AJK in terms of literacy rates and other social indicators is better than other
parts of Pakistan. Investment in these sectors to rehabilitate depleted assets
and to refurbish available ones is economically viable and socially acceptable.
The Vision of Green and Skilled Kashmir although is a coherent whole but for
discussion purposes it is divisible into two component parts; Green and Skilled.
Green Kashmir programme aims at natural resource development in the state and
Skilled Kashmir component focuses at human resource development. Thus the vision
seeks economic growth through development of natural assets and its equitable
distribution through increased employment opportunities. As such the vision fits
well with the Poverty Reduction Strategy of Government of Pakistan.
The inherent components of the Green part of the vision are forestation,
reforestation, specie-development and diversification, soil conservation and
enrichment, maintenance of eco-balance, water resource management etc. AJK being
a predominantly rural polity the programme suits it’s geographic, demographic
and socio- economic realities. Land holdings in AJK are small and most of the
land is inhospitable to traditional plough agriculture. Terrain and weather
conditions favour forestation. Investment in green economy and sister cottage
industry will diversify the economy and multiply the chances of wealth creation
for the citizens. As a result pressure on government for employment generation
will be lowered. Government will be able to divert more resources to social and
productive sectors. Moreover by taking care of major environmental concerns like
land, water and air pollution , land erosion and degradation, loss of biological
diversity, diminishing forests etc Green component will help in achieving
objectives of NEAP( National Environmental Action Plan). Giant steps are
underway to ensure implementation and success of the programme at a fast track.
Hundreds of plant nurseries with millions of plants are being developed.
Cultivation of high value crops like mushroom and tea and exportable trees like
olive, fig and pomegranate is especially encouraged. All governmental
institutions have been instructed to carry out mandatory plantation campaigns.
07 million trees will be planted during coming Monsoon. In order to incentivise
adoption of the Green Programme incentives like Carbon Credit have been
announced. Community participation and ownership is ensured by dedicating forest
clusters to the names of their planters and popular figures like national
leaders. A Water Resource Management Authority has been established to tap and
conserve water treasures.
Skilled Kashmir component is designed to upgrade available workforce and attract
white-collars to skilled work. Hundreds of government schools have been declared
as Skill Development Centres after normal school times. The skills imparted at
these centres include both conventional and unconventional trades. To
co-ordinate skill development effort Azad Jamu and Kashmir Technical and
Vocational Training Authority has been established. Supported by small scale
easy loans this skilled labour will not only revolutionize local cottage
industry but will also help in value addition to traditional local products.
Natural companions to skilled Kashmir are promotion of home grown technologies,
welfare of working classes, promotion of marketing opportunities, introduction
of new technologies etc. In order to support this economic transformation
necessary infrastructural facilities are also being upgraded. Revolutionary
Kashmir Trunk Road is under construction. New and improved roads coupled with
tunnels, where necessary will shorten distances and increase market
accessibility. Fruit and vegetable markets and cold storages are planned at
sub-division level. To support industrialization and meet power shortage power
generation through both conventional and unconventional sources is encouraged.
Many projects in Hydropower sector ranging from 50-100 MW have been initiated.
Solar and Wind potentials are also being actively pursued. Administrated powers
are also being devolved by creation of new administrated units.
The vision has tremendous potential. However in order to catch the imagination
of policy makers, researcher and donors planned marketing and promotional effort
is required. Up till now it has been single handed enterprise by the Premier to
advance and advocate the idea. It is important to institutionalize the programme
as national asset. In this regard establishment of an independent Green and
Skilled Kashmir Secretariat can be helpful. This will assist in pooling the
efforts for marketing of the vision and develop result oriented policy regimes
for successful implementation of programme. Multidimensional nature of the
vision requires political commitment and pro-active collaboration among many
ministries and departments which is not possible within existing set up. This
secretariat will also serve as resource centre for bringing existing policies
and programmes in line with the vision. The secretariat staffed by core team of
development specialists can also be tasked to chalk out short term, medium term
and long term plans for the programme and formulate implementation strategies
and monitoring mechanisms for these plans. Without dateline plans and baseline
data bank it will be impossible to achieve objectives and assess success.
Development of agreed baseline and monitorable indicator is pre-requisite for
performance audit of any organization and programme. Moreover generating donor
support and public ownership is an unavoidable must which can only be achieved
through a coherent and consistent public relation campaign. Institutionalized as
national vision for progress the vision will succeed in earning peace and
prosperity for generations to come.