By: Jalaluddin Mughal // A short documentary film and a research study has revealed a significant expansion of tourism in Neelum Valley in Kashmir after the 2003 ceasefire between India and Pakistan.The film and research report that deeply scanned pre and post ceasefire scenario, has been termed the first of its kind. The in-depth study focuses on impacts of peace initiative on overall socioeconomic conditions and tourism related activities in the area. Muzaffarabad based rights group and think tank Press for Peace lunched the research report and documentary film. For many years of mistrust, the Neelum Valley- a tourist attraction bordering region, has been a combat zone between both neighboring atomic powers.The report titled ''In Search of Peace, Socioeconomic Development in Neelum Valley'' is directed and produced by Kashmiri broadcast journalist Amiruddin Mughal.
'The film gives an insight into struggle and life of people,” said Bazil Navi, AJK Information Minister. He added that the study could be a helpful planning tool for government and nonprofits working on economic development in the area. He also admitted the budget cuts and cumulative non-development expenditure as a major drawback in development of AJK.
“Tourism and cottage industries have potential to generate enormous job opportunities in Neelum Valley,” said Amiruddin Mughal, “but government need to build infrastructure and marketing strategies for local products,” he included.
The participants of the event appreciated it as a unique effort and approach towards highlighting social issues. They said the film elaborated 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 neighboring atomic powers.
“Peace and security is basic need for development,” said Raja Wasim concluding that peace and security can not only cause creation of more job opportunities but it also can draw attention of investors from all around country to invest in tourism and industries in the picturesque valley of divided Kashmir.
The lunching ceremony and symposium was attended and addressed by Information Minister for Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Syed Bazil Naqvi, Director Conciliation Resource London Sardar Tahir Aziz, Deputy Commissioner Muzaffarabad Masood ur Rehman, famous Kashmiri journalist and Director Center for Peace Development and Reforms (CPDR) Ershad Mehmood, Mrs Tanveer Lateef and Shoukat Javed Mir while the ceremony was largely attended by civil society activists, government officials and media personals.
Amiruddin Mughal and Raja Waseem, Director Press for Peace briefed participants about objectives of the report and film.