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Gilani Must Respect GoB’s Stance on Reko Diq Project

minerals

Top Executives of the Metal Mining companies had a meeting with the Chief Minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, in Quetta the other day and the issue of Reko Diq Gold and Copper project came up for discussion threadbare in the background of the government of Balochistan’s stand on the subject.

The Chief Minister plainly told the metal mining companies executives that the provincial government had decided to operate the copper and gold mine for which a board of governors had been constituted. The top executives explained their point of view on the subject. Finding no common points, the delegation left for Islamabad and had meeting with the BOI Chief first and later on with the Prime Minister. The Executives explained their investment plans and also share in profit of the federal and provincial governments without mentioning their ultimate returns from the project.

Primarily, the Balochistan government concluded an agreement with an Australian company for exploration of huge copper and gold mine. The company took two decades and failed to make any progress during this period. Instead of working on the project, the Australian listed the company with the inflated figures of copper and gold reserves in order to boost its shares. The company minted huge profit at the cost of backward Balochistan.

Finally, the company concluded an agreement with the present partners for mining gold and copper at Reko Dik. The Balochistan government reviewed the issue for years and finally decided not to grant mining licence to any company. This is the point of dispute between the government of Balochistan and the two companies from Chile and Canada for undertaking the copper and gold venture in Balochistan. After being disappointed here, they rushed to Islamabad and first won over the BOI and later met the Prime Minister on the issue seeking his personal favour.

At present Pakistan is an investment starved country desperately needing substantial foreign investment for its economy, the Prime Minister is likely to use his good offices on the Balochistan government to hand over the project to the foreign companies. It will be at the cost of the basic interests of Balochistan and its poor people. We advise the Prime Minister to keep himself away from the controversy and not to apply any pressure on the Balochistan government to surrender its legitimate economic interests to foreign companies for one reason of the other.

The people of Balochistan should remain on guard to defend their legitimate economic interests and also the future stakes of the Baloch people disallowing the federal government to undermine the legitimate interests of Balochistan and its poor people. The Chief Minister had already pledged to look into the matter if the companies offered an alternate and better proposal defending the interests of the local people. The companies should come to terms with the government of Balochistan instead of using arms twisting tactics to bully a weak and backward province.

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