MIRPUR (AJK)-President Sardar Masood Khan Monday declared that the AJK could be transformed into a Silicon valley and IT hub, which could supplement and augment Pakistan's burgeoning IT market.

"The AJK government will be encouraged to lend all of its due resources to achieve the task through the promotion of latest skills and products of information technology in all private and public sector institutions in line with the global needs for speedy progress and prosperity of the region," AJK President Masood Khan said while addressing a seminar here on Monday.

The seminar titled "Promoting Technology and Entrepreneurship in Azad Jammu and Kashmir," was organised by the Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) in collaboration with Sandbox Ltd, the private-sector promoter of IT field.

MUST Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Habibur Rehman, AJK Minister for Sports and Culture Ch Muhammad Saeed, MLA Ch Rukhsar Hussain, the AJK Information Technology Board DG, Sandbox Ltd CEO Faisal Manzoor, Founder Chief Sandbox Anjum Sohail and Director Students Affairs Prof Shahid Amin also addressed the seminar. They highlighted objectives of the seminar to attract maximum human involvement in the fast-growing field of information technology in AJK.

Heads of all MUST faculties, Registrar Prof Engr Waris Jiraal, Dean Sciences Prof Dr Rehana Asghar, Chairman Electrical Engineering Department Prof Dr Arif Hussain, Chairman Power Dept Prof Shabir Mirza, Chairman Business Administration Dept Prof Khaleeque Ahmed, Chairman Civil Engineering Dept Prof Anwar Khataab and other senior officials of all the faculties and large number of students from all departments also attended the seminar.

President Masood Khan continued that knowledge is an overarching framework for development of any region and country.'' In AJK, we should build a knowledge society and a knowledge-based economy as the state is ripe for such a transition,'' he pointed out.

The AJK president advised management of all the universities to reconfigure their curricula in the light of the emerging economic landscape, especially with reference to AJK's integration with CPEC. ''Their competencies should be relevant to infrastructure development, power generation and management of energy plants, industrial parks, fibre optics, mining, agricultural farms, growing fruits and flowers, for this purpose, the universities should set up business schools and training institutions to equip graduates with the skills of corporate management, finance and marketing, among others.'' he said.

He said that now knowledge economies are entrepreneurial economies and they are technology-driven. ''Overall, at the moment the technology threshold in AJK is low, but we are bound to expand it as we build dams, construct expressways, promote tourism, and accelerate overall economic growth. In Mirpur, a state of the art industrial zone will be established, under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.'' he explained.

Masood Khan told the audience that this zone itself will, put a demand on AJK universities to produce graduates and skilled personnel who would be able to run various enterprises in industrial zone. ''This would also stimulate competitiveness and knowledge-intensive economic activities,'' he elaborated.

He informed that for promotion of technology and entrepreneurship, the AJK government will strengthen efforts to enhance space for the private sector.'' This is necessary to absorb the growing skilled manpower and unleash the full potential of small and medium sized businesses,'' he added.

The president advised to create a strong interface between industry, the private sector and academia, industry and institutions like MUST should work more closely.

He urged the AJK Chamber of Commerce and Industry to act as a matchmaker between industry, business and universities.

Masood Khan assured that AJK IT Board and IT Department would become more active and dynamic. They have resource constraints but that deficit would be addressed,'' he said.

He told that the Pakistan District Education Rankings 2016 report released by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute established that AJK is ahead of national Pakistani average of literacy and other educational indicators, except Islamabad Capital Territory, scoring 81.68.

''We have five universities, two of which are devoted to science and technology, management sciences and information technology, within these universities and several post graduate colleges, we have emerging pockets of excellence which need to be smartly linked up,'' he added.

He advised the concerned sectors to take optimum benefit from all these factors so the AJK skilfully use entrepreneurship as a catalyst.

He said that in view of the existing potential, the AJK seems ready to become a technology hub, with a sharp focus on IT encompassing start up incubators, business acceleration, and software houses. ''With the launch of 3G and 4G coverage in the state, such tasks would become easier,'' he expressed his optimism.

The president has warned that unbaked, uniformed policies or misaligned aspirations will not do the miracle. ''Incubators will fail if they are not properly seeded up. We need technological innovations and inroads into the neighbouring markets to realize this ambition.'' he added.