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Investing in economically disadvantaged communities of Azad Kashmir | By Mazhar Iqbal

Socially responsible investment

Investing in disadvantaged communities supports the idea of socially responsible investment and it aims to mutually benefit the investors and the communities served.

Community investment also offers new opportunities for business growth and market access to far-off areas. The investors get exposure to a new skill base in order to work locally.

Azad Kashmir has a huge investment potential

Azad Kashmir region has huge potential to provide safe and profitable investment opportunities in healthcare, tourism, education, and the social sector.

Although Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has a clear vision of the development and growth of disadvantaged areas of the country, the economic potential of remote areas in Azad Kashmir is still undiscovered.

Azad Kashmir emerging tourism hotspot

Azad Kashmir is an emerging tourism hot spot that offers attractive investment opportunities for both foreign and local investors.

The present governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir are keen to attract new investments and have clear strategy for growth of entrepreneurial activities.

Under-Construction Mega Project in Azad Kashmir

Opportunities to Accelerate Economic Growth

Due to the economic impacts of Covid-19, governments all over the world are desperately looking to accelerate economic growth. Thus, the they want to utilise all available resources in order to restart economic activity and in return create jobs for millions of people.


Pakistan seeking to restrain imports

Pakistan is actively seeking to restrain imports and finding new ways to expand exports. The export sector has recently taken flight as we have seen the textile sector of the country particularly working at its utmost capacity.

Here, I will briefly look into those sectors that have a huge potential to grow in the Azad Kashmir region.

The handicraft sector in Azad Kashmir

The handicraft sector of Azad Kashmir can be a prime export sector. Although, it has been stagnant for several years due to various reasons. But now, both the government and industry itself appear ready to overcome problems as soon as possible.

image of a white mulberry on a mulberry-tree branch. Organic cultivation of white mulberry

Specialised agriculture in Azad Kashmir

Specialized agriculture such as sericulture and olive plantation has a bright prospect.

Apart from a few bottlenecks in recent years of mismanagement in food and agriculture, Pakistan has been a self-sufficient country in the provision of food to its population.

Azad Kashmir, due to a small population has not a very high demand for food crops and with particular reference to its historic links with agriculture and forestry has huge potential in crop-based production that has yet not been discovered.

Crop-based production

Crop-based production is one of those sectors that make this region highly attractive for those investors who are looking into growing crops, fruit, and vegetable to process and market agriculture-based products such as cereals, pasta, biscuits and bakery products etc.

Crop production is agriculture based production of food and fibre. This includes all the feed sources that are required to maintain and produce crops.
The problem is with the level of output in agriculture that can be proved with investment in food processing, production, and other related segments.

Manufacturing in Azad Kashmir

Manufacturing can be the bread earner of Azad Kashmir. Currently, the region is importing all kinds of manufactured goods.

Manufacturing in new as well traditional industries such as IT, software, healthcare, and transport can take flight if the government takes it seriously.

We have seen in the present Pakistani government’s strategic decisions in manufacturing.


The government is committed to provide full assistance to the manufacturing sector members by enabling more entrepreneurs and businessmen to explore the opportunities available within the country and across the world.

CPEC is a huge opportunity and eye-opener

The CPEC is a huge opportunity for Azad Kashmir based investors, particularly in renewable energy and export of energy.
As we know that manufacturing in China is becoming less competitive due to high US and European tariffs, there is a significant opportunity to work with Chinese manufacturers to transfer manufacturing activity to Azad Kashmir and use it as an export platform.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy

Renewable and sustainable energy is an area where Azad Kashmir offers attractive investment opportunities.

Hydropower, solar power, renewable, and many more sub-sectors present endless opportunities to foreign investors.

Highly saturated education sector

Although, education sector is saturating in terms of offering conventional employment opportunities, it is one of the top priorities of the present government of Azad Kashmir.

There are massive opportunities in the provision of higher education, skills literacy, professional and vocational training to people of rapidly expanding population centres.

Healthcare industry

Healthcare is also on the government’s priority list for long-term and medium-term investments. Health facilities across the country need to be built up through public-private partnerships.

Social Infrastructure

Social Infrastructure is a priority sector due to the present government’s social development policy.

In near future, Azad Kashmir will need to invest huge amounts of money into the provision of clean drinking water, waste management, urban and rural transport, etc.


The rapid increase of major population centers in the district headquarters of Azad Kashmir has highlighted the need for affordable housing in Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Mirpur, Rawalakot, Bagh, Bhimber, and other cities.

Housing and Construction

Housing all over the world is a worry for the governments. The present government of Azad Kashmir is short of money but has got high ambitions to expand housing sector.

Affordable housing, public-private ventures, provision of modern and secure housing facilities all are on the government’s priority list.

Investment in Azad Kashmir has traditionally been low due to obvious reasons. Most people in Azad Kashmir, prefer to invest in real estate taking it for granted as a secure and profit-making sector.

Early profit-taking and safety of funds is much more as compared to the other businesses.

Transport Sector of Azad Kashmir

The transport sector has consistently shown growth in Azad Kashmir in recent years.

So, the traditional small car manufacturing and import businesses have been taking advantage of it.

Yet, investors can make money from the automobile industry in Azad Kashmir.

From SUVs to public sector transport and from heavy machinery to small cars, there is a huge and booming market.

SME Sector

Small and Medium Enterprises world over are getting a fresh start as new trends and opportunities are creeping into niche markets sectors. These include creative work, software, food-manufacturing, IT, Travel and Tours, Dairy, Animal Husbandry, Fintech, Online Services, and many more.

Pakistan and China will soon have a new and alternative short road connectivity as an alternative to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Roadside commercial activity can be another way of tapping into economic opportunities.

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