Reko Diq Treaty and Balochistan

The coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has enacted legislation regarding the Recode Agreement. It is also being said that the Foreign Investment Bill 2022 was not included in the agenda of the Senate. In this article, you will know abou the Reko Diq treaty and situation in Balochistan.

The federal government approved this bill without discussion during the Senate session. Balochistan National Party Senator Tahir Bizenjo, People’s Party Leader Raza Rabbani, Pakhtun Khaw Milli Awami Party and Jamiat Ulema Islam Senators opposed in the Senate, but the bill was passed by majority vote.

National Party Senator Tahir Bizenjo believes that after the implementation of this bill, the ownership of the province’s natural resources will be transferred to the federal government. Thus, the eighteenth amendment will become ineffective.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has set up a committee comprising two senior ministers, former Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Prime Minister of Law Nazir Tarar to address the concerns of the coalition parties.

This committee held talks with Balochistan National Party chief Akhtar Mengal and other leaders. Federal Ministers say that Akhtar Mengal has reached an agreement on this issue, this law will be limited to Recodek only and the Balochistan section will also be added to it.

According to Senator Tahir Bizenjo, representatives of Balochistan have complained that Sindh Assembly members expressed solidarity with these agreements without knowing the facts.

He says that the Balochistan government suddenly presented the resolution in the Provincial Assembly for the approval of the agreements of Rekodic project and held a referendum.

Senior journalist Anwar Sajdi has written that the members of the opposition parties in the provincial assembly, Balochistan National Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, were not ready for this resolution in advance, however, this resolution was passed after little resistance in the Balochistan Assembly.

The government has also passed a similar resolution in the National Assembly. The federal government had sent a reference to the Supreme Court to legalize the mining agreement in Rekodik.

The lawyers of the federal and Balochistan governments have submitted the contention in the Supreme Court that the Balochistan Assembly has been taken into confidence on this agreement and the assembly members have agreed to this agreement.

The government assured the Supreme Court of protecting Balochistan’s rights, providing jobs to local people and avoiding possible droughts due to the use of water in the Rekodic project. The Supreme Court approved this reference. Thus, the federal government enacted the foreign investment law.

Rekodak is a backward area of Chagai district of Balochistan. Rekodik is a Balochi language word which literally means Sandy Peak. Rekodik was once called an ancient volcano. Experts say that there are extensive underground gold and copper deposits in Rekodak.

According to an estimate, these mines have 5.9 billion raw garnet, copper and 41.5 million gold reserves. Due to the lack of attention of the federal and provincial governments and other unknown reasons, no significant work was done to extract minerals from the Rekodik mines until 2006.

Work on it started during the reign of General Pervez Musharraf. In 2012, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, declared the agreement illegal and canceled it.

A consortium of foreign companies sued the World Bank against the cancellation of the contract. The World Bank Arbitration Tribunal fined Pakistan $11 billion. The Government of Pakistan negotiated with the consortium to waive the penalty and agreed to a new agreement which is now being implemented.

In 2010, under the 18th Amendment, the first right over natural resources was declared to the province. This provision of the 18th amendment has benefited the provinces considerably, however, the stakeholders of Balochistan raised the issue of deprivation of the province regarding CPEC. Doubts and complaints were raised about Gwadar and Gwadar Bandgah.

95% of the population of Gwadar depends on fishing, but now these fishermen cannot go for fishing in the sea for the whole month. Large Chinese-made vessels with modern cold storage facilities have been catching fish throughout the month.

When local fishermen are allowed to catch for the shortest period of time, the sea becomes empty of fish and prawns, thus the employment of local fishermen is badly affected. So far, no lasting solution to this issue has been found.

According to the well-known journalist Aziz Singhoor, the author of several books on Balochistan, there are 12 million tons of copper and 21 million ounces of gold reserves in the 70 square kilometer area of Rekodak.

Balochistan experts say the value of these reserves is more than 1000 billion US dollars. Aziz Singhoor has written that the government has traded such valuable reserves at a low price, although more money could have been collected with a little effort.

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