Srinagar, March 20 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, leaders of the business community are keen to become part of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) Mohammad Yasin Khan in a media interview said that the business community of Kashmir had suffered huge losses in recent years and the CPEC provides an opportunity to restart economic growth. “The project is being constructed in our neighborhood, so ideally we should be part of it. Every one of us here wants to link with it and make profit out of it. However, it will be fruitful only after a political solution to the Kashmir dispute,” Khan said.

“Thinking positively, I as a Kashmiri and as a businessman, wish that this project becomes a platform for both India and Pakistan to reach consensus on a solution of Kashmir dispute. It is in the interest of economic development of both nations, besides Kashmir,” Khan said.

General Secretary of the Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Association (KTMF) Bashir Ahmad Kongposh said the CPEC is an opportunity for Kashmiris to repair their devastated infrastructure. “The project is being constructed in (Azad) Kashmir. We could have joined this project if India shuns its hard stance and makes efforts for good relations with Pakistan, and vice-versa. We see in CPEC a chance for Kashmir to become a gateway for India to have billions of trade with central Asia, apart from friendly relations with its rival neighbor, Pakistan,” Ahmad said.

Economist Professor Nisar Ali is of the view that the CPEC is the revival of the historical Silk Route that connected Kashmir with Pakistan and Central Asia. “It was the natural route for Kashmirs to connect with the rest of the world. Kashmiris would export handicrafts to several nations and gain huge returns,” Ali said. “The new corridor is actually the restoration of the old route of which Kashmiris were daily travelers.”

Political analyst Dr Shiekh Showkat Hussain says that unless the Kashmir issue is resolved, there is no possibility of Kashmir joining the CPEC. “This seems a remote possibility, given the fierce rivalry between India and Pakistan. If a political solution is chalked out, then Kashmir would automatically become part of this grand project,” Showkat said.

Director of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, Dr GN Khaki, said that the highway which connects Kashmir with India is historically a route of lower importance than the routes that connected Kashmir to central Asia.


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