No one moved as Balochistan bleeds: CJP

 

Balochistan bleeds
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that the law and order situation remains terrible in Balochistan as neither the federal nor the provincial government has implemented its judgments.

Heading a three-judge bench hearing a case involving a dispute between the State of Pakistan and the Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP) for not renewing prospective Reko Diq Minerals License, the CJP said that mutilated bodies are being found from various areas of Balochistan but no one is moved.The chief justice said that emergency had been imposed in Quetta and other districts for the last 3 to 4 days but no action was taken against the criminals and terrorists.

“People are dying due to this (futile) closure of the cities but neither the federal nor the provincial government has done anything.” No one is safe in this country except the criminals because no one has courage to arrest or register cases against them, he added.Taking up the TCCP case, the SC bench observed that the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) can’t get mining lease to the TCCP unless the decision of the Balochistan Mining Committee is set aside by an appellate forum within Pakistan.

The TCCP – a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals formed to explore gold and copper – had invoked the jurisdiction of the ICC and ICSID for not extending its mining license. But Dr Abdul Haq Baloch filed a petition seeking restraining order against the federal and the provincial governments from participating in the proceedings at the ICSID and the ICC.The court told Khalid Anwar, the TCCP counsel, that the company did not get the mining lease as it had not fulfilled the requirements.

“Has the TCCP accepted the Balochistan Mining Committee decision as it had not been challenged in Pakistani courts?” the court asked from the counsel.Khalid said that wrong impression has been created that TCCP does not respect the Pakistani constitution and the law. The counsel requested the bench to protect the company saying, “I (on behalf of the TCCP) wanted relief from the Supreme Court. We came before you and hope that justice would be done.”Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that if you respect the court and Pakistani laws then “show your bona fide by withdrawing the reference from ICSID and ICC”.

Khalid replied that even if the company won the award through international forums, they would ask the SC to enforce it. Justice Azmat Saeed told the counsel that as per the mining lease authority, the TCCP had not completed the requirements. “Out of 13 deposits you have submitted the feasibility report of only H14 and H15,” the judge told him.Robina Shah, who claimed to represent one of the oldest tribes of the area called Syed Nizamuddin Blla Noshi Notani, appeared before the bench and accused the mining company for poisoning the grazing area meant for the cattle herds by using cyanide for smelting process to separate gold from copper.

“People are getting sick and cancer is widespread,” she said.Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kinrani also supported her point of view and explained that one of the reasons for not extending the leasing licence was the absence of filing of environmental impact assessment study by the TCCP under the Environment Protection Act 1997.Robina, explaining that her tribe lived in the area for the last 600 years, warned that her people would not allow the loot and plunder of the national wealth just like that. “They (the TCCP) have maintained their presence in the area for the last two decades and have built state of the art air strip and access roads but they have not set up even a single school or hospital for the benefit of the locals,” she said.

She also asserted that no resident of the area had been given job; “as a result, our youth are jobless and poverty stricken, and watching the plundering of the mineral wealth of Balochistan haplessly”. She acknowledged that few jobs went to the supporters or workers of the PML-Q and alleged that the agreement was signed during the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf in which the interests of the locals were never considered.

“We are not against foreign investment but the people of the area should also benefit from the exploits of their lands,” she said, explaining that she was forced to raise her voice in the court by disregarding the tradition of her tribe where woman are not allowed to speak up for such issues. The company is also not doing anything to compensate the people of the area by giving royalty for exploiting the underneath wealth or extending them any facility. However, Ms Robina failed to provide any solid evidence to prove the claims when asked by the court to do so. The hearing was adjourned until today (Tuesday). = APP