The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the northwest province of Pakistan. Its total population according to 1998 census is around 17.744 million with an average growth rate of 2.82 per cent. The economically active population ratio of the province is 19.40 per cent. The total area of the province is 74521 square kilometers excluding the tribal belt, which spreads over an area of 27220 square kilometers. There are 7 divisions, 24 districts, 59 tehsil / taluka, 7326 villages with 30 municipal committees, 13 town committees and 11 cantonments in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The tribal belt consists of 7 agencies with 42 tehsil, 2559 villages and 5 town committees. The 1998 census puts the total population of federally administered tribal area at 3.176 million. The unemployment rate of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 26.80 per cent and if the figures of the tribal areas are taken into account, it may swell over to 30 to 35 percent.
The literacy rate in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 35.40 per cent and that of the tribal area is 17.40 per cent. The male / female ratio of the literacy rate is 51.40 and 18.80 per cent respectively. In the case of tribal belt the ratio further goes down to 29.50 in the case of male literacy and 3 per cent in the case of female.
Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has an historic background. This region had served as a major conduit for the export goods to the western and Central Asian States. Peshawar remained an international focus for the massive trade activities with Afghanistan in particular and other countries of the region in general. In the old good days, the convoys of Traders and Businessmen from the Central Asian Republics, India, China, and Iran used to stay in the city on their way to Afghanistan, Tashkent, Samarkant, Bukhara and other parts of the Central Asian Republics. Peshawar was a hub of business activities and the local businessmen and traders had time-tested business relations with their counterparts in Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is blessed with abounding natural resources such as minerals, precious stones, marble, wood, hydropower potential and copious water resources. There are over 2000 industrial units in the province. There are 3 industrial estates and 10 small industrial estates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The three main industrial hubs include Peshawar, Hattar and Gadoon industrial estates while small-scale industries are concentrated at Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Haripur, Kohat, D.I.Khan, Bannu and Charsadda areas.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is blessed with some of the world’s best-kept tourist treasures, rich history, culture, famous archaeological sites, minerals wealth having great potential for trade and commercial activities. In ancient times, this region had been the host to the Greco-Buddhist Gandhara civilization having great significance from strategic and economic point of view. Before 1947 it was part of India then ruled by British. Due to its proximity with Afghanistan this region economically suffered in the war against terrorism. Being home to some of the world’s towering peaks, mighty mountains, majestic passes, enchanting rivers, lush-green forests, historical sites, the region offers one of the most beautiful panorama in this part of the world. Some of the places like Chitral, Gilgit, Kaghan, Dir, Swat and Northern Areas are God-gifted treasures of striking natural beauty worth seeing. These scenic parts are linked by road and by air providing luxurious stay to the tourists in a cool and serene atmosphere. The sight of some of the world’s majestic peaks such as K-2, Tirchmir, Bramsher, Nanga Parbat and others adds to fascinations with magical charm. These areas offer lot of potential for tourism and related ventures. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has all the modern comforts and facilities ranging from latest model automobile to the most modern aircraft. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is rich with the world’s finest timber, marble, mineral deposits and huge water reservoirs for hydel power. The precious and semi-precious stones notably ruby, emeralds, aquamarine and topaz and other varieties and found in this Province have world-wide fame and are exported to foreign markets because of their lasting beauty and non-fading magic.
A glance at the industrial scene unveils a large network of industries such as textiles, chipboard, plastic goods, garments, leather, finest quality garments, match etc. A well-established pharmaceutical industry is fully operating involving both local and multinational companies. To meet growing transport demand, recently production of motor rickshaw started. Food, beverages and tobacco have the leading position followed by textile and leather sub-sector.
Today’s industrial progress and achievements within short span of time can be described as phenomenal. There are vast markets for investments in gemstones, minerals, hydel power projects, small, medium and large-scale industries, agriculture, tourism and other sectors. Similarly, there is wide scope for joint ventures available to foreign entrepreneurs in a territory rich of natural wealth with plenty of still unexplored resources and where nature speaks in abundance awaiting more and more industrial ventures in different fields. This year my priorities will be focused on attracting FDIs in Hydropower and Tourism Sectors. We have already done spade work for Tourism sector and identified that various departments in the Public sector are overlapping each other and do not have adequate information about the hydropower potential of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tourism is another sector where I will be focusing this year because the recent law and order situation, particularly in Malakand area caused colossal loss to the Tourism sector. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI), a well established premier forum of the entrepreneurs and businessmen can provide you all the necessary help and guidance for joint ventures in the industrial and economic sector in this region that has assumed added significance after re-opening of land routes to Central Asia connecting this Province with European states.
Haji Muhammad Afzal