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Development = Exploitation

By: Diagoh Murad

Every Government in Pakistan whenever comes to power start grieving about the mishandling the rights of Balochistan and want to nurse these grieving wounds with the new wave of development projects, even if Baloch nation rejects these new plans of developing their status, which in the earlier were (Saindak, Rekodek, Dudder Zinc Project, Chamalang Mine Project, Gwadar Deep sea port & Mirani Dam project) the government whether military or civil never recommend Baloch nation in agreements with the companies be it local or international, for them Baloch nation doesn’t exist when they are negotiating with investors to put in their efforts in finding more areas where new mineral resources could be shaped up and be utilized.

Today mostly the development projects can be seen as non-profitable for local Baloch population as neither these development projects are made considering Baloch nation nor local Baloch were given priority over it as well Baloch population are being rejected as unacceptable to perform such kind of jobs where they needed professionals or experienced ones. So not only these development projects meant to invite money investors but also to settle employees from other provinces, these projects whenever comes they are bound to come with serial of abduction of Baloch youths who try to befoul the true scheme regarding these newly found projects as totally anti Baloch. These sentiments are not only factual in today’s circumstances but can be also observed if take a profound look at the blueprints of these development projects as from where they were taken and whom will profit more and whom will develop more from it.

As structure wise these development projects seems to be for the welfare of Baloch nation to give the local Baloch a opportunity to acquire a job to setup a good living standard, But like said that when ever local Baloch attempt to obtain the job opportunity, the higher ups regard them useless to the job position as they are unskilled to perform and with these reasons employees are extradited from other provinces, they never tried to identify as to what should be done to address their grieving regarding them as the locals and giving them a opportunity to learn something but even if the local Baloch are passed as qualified enough to apply for the odd job they consider them too lazy or clumsy for that matter or better yet the investors concerned their own employees rather than appointing new ones from the locals which is as disappointing as it can be that in the name of development the local Baloch are being suppressed by the company which wouldn’t appoint the locals as they seemed satisfied with their chosen employees which are mostly acquired from the outside. For instance in the district of Hub most of the companies are locals (They are PVT LTD companies registered from the central government) but the workers most population is from the neighboring city Karachi.

These projects neither succeeded developing better life for local Baloch population nor are they to stable the economy of Balochistan as there affairs are being handled in the ministries of central government where not only the total audit of these companies are calculated but tax payment, sales tax revenues and import & export taxes are also audited which in turn makes Balochistan economy to depend mostly on the central government which by far doesn’t give authority to the local Government to even look into what the companies are offering to the local Baloch population regarding their health and medical treatment or how many local Baloch are occupied in the companies key positions. These facts & figures might give an overview as to who and how has the grip to turn the movement of the wheels, because not only the local population is ignored but Balochistan local Government body is not counted either to even show their views or recommendation as to what projects should be opted and what should be scrapped up. Rekodek was the one which was scraped up due to the failure in the given time frame of the agreement with the companies which was given the task to complete the exploitation process but as the company didn’t seemed to be fit to fulfill the agreement which brought to the cancellation of the agreement.

Australia's Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) a joint venture between Canada's Barrick Gold and Chile's Antofagasta Plc which was given the task for exploration during the tenure of former dictator Gen. Parvez Musharraf, had an exploration license for the copper mines at Rekodek, which has an estimated 3.5 billion tones of low-grade copper and gold, in the district of Chagai, a place where Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests back in 1998. Due to the time frame expired Balochistan government declare the agreement as invalid after which Balochistan government assured the people of Balochistan that provincial resources are under control of the government as the representative didn’t see fit to let a company exploit the resources with the maximum share that is of 75 % percent and Balochistan was to receive 25% although it is still clear that these 25% share was for the interest of Pakistani government rather than given to provincial government but still it was to give a picture that all control of the resources handling has been handed over to the provincial government but this soon begin to melt down when the cancellation of the agreement became public, The Government of chili & Canada discussed this issue with Pakistan’s foreign ministry and conveyed them the doubts of their firms.

The Federal government also sought to have a clarification from the provincial government for a reason of the cancellation of agreement for which Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani met Chief minister Aslam Raisani in Islamabad. During the discussion Aslam Raisani said that his government wont review its decision to cancel the former agreement as they didn’t struck any deals with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan on mining of gold & copper through Rekodek, some doubts also became clear when American ambassador Anne Patterson issued a statement in which she deliberately accused provincial government by saying “Multinational corporations will not invest in a country where deals are canceled”.After the action reaction was sure to follow as federal government and TCC haven’t received any notifications regarding the cancellation of the project as the public relations manager of the company Samia Ali Shah said “TCC itself has not yet received any cancellation notice for the Rekodek project from the government”. Which itself clears that neither the power nor the decision meant anything of the provincial government which have vowed to protect the national interest of the local people but haven’t got powers to do the impossible, the only reason government canceled this agreement was to appease the Baloch nationalists who were against these development projects as they see them anti Baloch.

These mega developments projects as clarified are not under the control of the Balochistan government but are being negotiated by the federal government as they have already given Saindak project which is also another gold and copper reserve inside the region of Chagai on leased to Metallurgical Construction Company of China (MCC) for 10 years on September 2002 over mining in the area at the cost of the mine's estimated life of 19 years, It started production from August 2003. This project will generate 2.5 billion annually & will pay $500,000 monthly to the government of Pakistan over next 10 years plus 50 per cent of the total revenue from mineral sale & on which Balochistan would receive 0.7 million dollars as annual royalty. Although 0.7 million doesn’t count if you generate 2.5 billion annually from it but as they say what comes is wish of the God but in Baloch case what comes around is the wish of Federal Government as this project seems to be producing 15,810 tones copper, 2.8 tones silver, 1.5 tones gold, and 30,000 tones iron annually for 19 years which means that Balochistan would receive 13.3 millions totally in the 19 years of utilization and production and Pakistan will receive 60 millions totally for 10 years with the exception of 50 percent of the total revenue from the exporting of mineral resources.

On the other hand Federal government wants to keep these development projects ongoing as already Rekodek & Saindak have been explored and producing mineral resources from these two sites have started and more investors are gathering around the door of the federal government to put their investment on the other mega projects likewise Dudder Zinc Project, Gwadar Deep Sea port are on the next round although the cancellation of Gwadar deep sea port project agreement with the Singapore firm was recommended by the provincial cabinet of Balochistan and Federal government also took notice of the cancellation but it isn’t yet confirmed that Gwadar Deep sea port project with the Singapore firm has been scraped up or is it still intact, But the Dudder Zinc project which was started in April 2007 has since been handed over to the Chinese firms whom have a joint partnership to work on the project which annual output is expected to be 100,400 tons of zinc concentrate and 32,600 tons of lead concentrate according to sources:

“The banking loan makes up about 80 percent of the total investment of $72.6 million in the project. The MCC Dudder Minerals Development Company will fund the rest 20 percent of the investment from its own capital. China Metallurgical Construction Group Corp holds 51 per cent in the consortium. Hunan Zhuzhou Non-ferrous Metals Smelter Co Ltd takes a 34 per cent share and Hunan Huangshaping Lead and Zinc Mine Company holds the remaining 15 percent. The project in Lasbela district has mining and concentrating capacity of 660,000 tons a year, according the companies’ sources. Once completed, the mine will be able to enhance its production to 100,354 tons of zinc concentrate and 32,584 tons of lead concentrates annually”.

Although if we assume that these projects are there to develop the economy but one with a common sense will surely figure out what kind of development is going on inside Balochistan as neither Balochistan has been given the equal share and nor the government of Balochistan play a role in the agreement or negotiation of the revenue distribution which clear cut that Balochistan Government has been put aside when negotiation over the project were being discussed with the foreign investors because the total production value of these projects is much expected to develop the region and give the economy of Balochistan a big boost but for 62 years nothing can be seen that have helped develop Baloch standards of living. Baloch are still living a slum life’s in which they have problems of the daily life activities, the infrastructure of Balochistan is backwarded as no educational facilities, health care facilities, Clean drinking water or gas has been supplied to them and neither the annual revenue or economic loan is being spent over the locals population.

The federal government do not discuss on these basic issues (Education, Health, Water, Electricity, Gas) which are very much important when you want to shape up a society in which a human being can survive but it has been busy to develop the mega projects ignoring the infrastructure of Balochistan, some question rise if we give a deep look on it

  1. Does Development means to exploit resources and legalize the companies that could alter the economical structure of the region?

  2. Does Development counts only economy not social living standards where Education and Healthcare Facilities and other natural things are concerned?

  3. Is it duly correct to exploit a region like Chagai where Pakistan has tested its nuclear weapons & will this exploring (exploitation) wont jeopardize the life of the inhabitants, as there were news that the environment in the locality of the min is being irreversibly destroyed?

These questions are vital when the life of Baloch nation has been put to risk for making millions through such mega projects which are solely meant to exploit the regional resources and leave it to dry up after the exploitation. As the altering of economical structure concerned Balochistan mineral resources are for limited time period as already said that Saindak project will last up to 19 years, Rekodek will last for 50 years or maybe less & Duddar Zinc exploitation in the region of Lasbella is estimated to be another 14 years with the economical structure washed up Balochistan will be a dry land which will be of no use after all the mineral resources have been extracted out of it. Balochistan regional resources have the potential to build up a strong economy on which the life of the inhabitants will become much better and the Government will prosper too but this cannot go in present circumstances as the share are not equally distributed, Like in these 62 years the federal administrators never took notice of Baloch nation it will likely be the case in the future also and for Baloch nation to survive it must be liberated from the clutches of the evil or else like Balochistan is being plundered from its resources there will be a time when Baloch nation wont be seen on this part of the earth. As Balochistan is drying up of the resources it once stored underneath there comes a time when nothing will be left accept the dry land.