Balochistan Chief Minister Denies Precious Resources Being Sold to Foreign Companies

Balochistan’s Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch rejected allegations that Reko Diq gold and copper reservoirs were being sold to foreign companies.

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QUETTA A press conference was held by Dr. Malik Baloch, chief minister (CM) of Balochistan, in which he rejected allegations of alleged corruption in Reko Diq.

Dr. Malik said that “I will not sell a stone of Balochistan; Reko Diq is something very big.” He also announced to send a defamation notice to Dr. Shahid Masood for leveling a baseless allegation against him.

Last week, Dr. Shahid Masood had alleged that Nawaz Sharif, Dr. Malik Baloch, Mahmood Achakzai and Hasil Bizenjo were contemplating huge kickbacks in Reko Diq deal.

Reacting to the press conference of Dr. Malik, Dr. Shahid Masood said that his allegations about kickbacks in Reko Diq deal with Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) was a pre-emptive story. He stressed that he stands by his allegations and would respond to any defamation notice sent by the chief minister.

The chief minister’s remarks came after opposition parties in the Balochistan Assembly leveled serious allegations against the province’s nationalist-led government. Opposition parties claimed that Reko Diq gold and copper reservoirs were being sold to foreign companies.

The chief minister rejected the reports of granting contracts to TCC of Reko Diq. He said that the Supreme Court had already rejected the agreement with TCC and the apex court had issued a judgment as well. Dr. Baloch said the agreement with TCC by Balochistan Development Authority had violated the province’s mines and mineral rules.

“Every company is bound to follow Balochistan mining rules,” he added. Geologists consider Reko Diq as one of the ten major gold and copper deposits across the globe. Former Pakistan Peoples Party-led government in Balochistan had decided to execute the mega project. Nawab Aslam Raisani, former chief minister of Balochistan, said that the son of a top leader in government finalized the deal on Reko Diq. He also supported the allegation that massive irregularities are expected in forthcoming Reko Diq deals.

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“I was the one who cancelled the contract of TCC and saved Reko Diq from exploitation and as a result I had to face a suicide blast and my government was toppled unconstitutionally,” added the former chief minister.

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Balochistan National Party (BNP) has said in a statement that “We will resist any move to sell Reko Diq to foreign companies against the interests of Balochistan.” BNP also announced a protest would be held against alleged corruption in Reko Diq on December 18.

Molana Abdul Wasay, opposition leader in the Balochistan Assembly, said that if an unfair deal is made on Reko Diq then his party would challenge it in the International Court of Justice. “If CM is not making a secret deal on Reko Diq then why is he going to London with certain people who have no business with Balochistan government,” asked Mr. Wasay.

For this purpose, Nawab Raisani-led government allocated Rs15 billion for exploration of gold and copper in the area. Dr. Baloch assured his cabinet, the Balochistan Assembly and masses of the province, that his government would guard all mineral and natural resources and added that, “I am leading an accountable and responsive government.”

In 2011, TCC approached the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes Tribunal in Washington D.C. and claimed damages after the Balochistan government refused to give the go-ahead for extracting copper and gold from the project site. The TCC alleged that the provincial government had violated the company’s rights under the 1993 Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement. The Supreme Court in January 2013 had declared void a mining deal for the Reko Diq copper project signed 20 years ago between the Balochistan government and international mining companies. The apex court in its ruling said that the agreement reached on July 23, 1993 was in conflict with the laws of the country.

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Mir Behram Baloch is a journalist covering government and social issues in Balochistan. Read other articles by Mir.