Several journalists, politicians, intellectuals and others, while speaking at a seminar in Quetta Press Club on Saturday, demanded that the contents of Rekodiq deal with Canadian mining corporation Barrick Gold need to be made public.
The seminar, organised by newly formed Rekodiq Defence Campaign, was addressed by the Deputy Organizer of National Democratic Party Rasheed Karim Baloch, senior politician and former senator Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani, President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Shehzada Zulfiqar, Vice President of National Party Dr Ishaq Baloch, Dr Mahrang Baloch of Baloch Yakjehti Committee, Advocate Rajib Buledi of Balochistan Bar Council, Baloch intellectual Dr Manzoor Baloch, Hazara leader Tahir Hazara, and senior political leaders Advocate Inayatullah Kasi Advocate, Dr Din Muhammad Bazdar and Noorullah Watan Dost.
The speakers questioned the agreement and demanded that the details of the so-called Rekodiq deal need to be brought to the public knowledge. “Only the people of Balochistan have the rights to make any deals on the resources of Balochistan,” one speaker said.
Addressing the seminar, Rashid Karim Baloch, the Deputy Organizer of National Democratic Party, said: “it is alleged that people of Balochistan are against the development process, but the reality is we are against exploitation not real development.”
“Rekodiq belongs to the people of Balohchistan and only they have the first rights on it. The people of Balochistan must unite to raise voice against the exploitation of Baloch resources,” Rashid Karim said.
“Rekodiq belongs to the people of Balohchistan and only they have the first rights on it. The people of Balochistan must unite to raise voice against the exploitation of Baloch resources,” he said.
Former Senator, Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani, said that Rekodiq is not the only agreement where people of Balochistan have been ignored. “Baloch people were also not taken into confidence when agreements of Saindak and CPEC were made,” he said.
Mr Raisani added that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the Pakistani state will use revenue generated from Rekodiq to payback Pakistan’s borrowings. “But we need to first understand the extent of the loans that have been taken in last 70 years and how much of these have been spent in Balochistan. We will find out that Balochistan has nothing to do with these loans,” he said.
He added that it is the collective responsibility of people of Balochistan to resist against the exploitation of our resources. “Rekodiq is owned by the people of Balochistan and it contains several resources and we require accountability around all these resources. We will resist against any type of fake political processes to save our future,” Raisani said.
Dr Ishaq Baloch, the vice president of National Party, said: ”Rekodiq mine is a very important natural resource reserve of Balochistan, however, the agreements around it have been manipulated since the beginning. Therefore, the public now needs to know all details around the new variations of this agreement.”
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists President, Shezada Zulfiqar, said that several aspects of Rekodiq Deal with Barrick Gold are still concealed. “According to some sources, even the Chief Minister of Balochistan is unaware of the details of the agreement,” he said.
Baloch intellectual Professor Dr Manzoor Baloch said that Rekodiq is being propagated as a trillion dollars project but despite this mine being in Balochistan, the Baloch people are not being considered as a stakeholder. “Baloch have lost confidence in this whole process, and they are not getting any benefit from any of the resources of Balochistan,” he said.
Hazara leader Tahir Hazara said that if the people of Balochistan are united and resolute to defend their resources then they can improve the situation. He said: “provincial government and members of legislative assembly lack any kind of authority. The real political organisations of Balochistan, civil society and people oof Balochistan need to come together and devise a future policy to stop these issues.”
President of Balochistan Bar Council, Rahib Bulaidi, said that details of Rekodiq’s resources, its excavations processes, and accountability mechanism are all vague. “The violation of court orders and constitution are alarming. Therefore, all political parties of Balochisan need to come together to gain control of Balochistan’s resources,” he said.
He added that the state did not find it necessary to take the bar councils in confidence vis-à-vis Rekodiq. “This mysterious deal has been hidden from courts and the people alike. Therefore, we reject this agreement as we are not aware who are the responsible parties of this agreement and how is this going to impact the future of people of Balochistan,” Mr Bulaidi said.
Student leader and representative of Baloch Yakjehti Committee, Dr Mahrang Baloch, said that we are not against any development. But so far Baloch had bitter experiences to the extent that we are scared when anyone comes up with the mantra of developments.
“Balochistan has not been able to get anything from its resources, they are not getting anything from Sui Gas, Saindak, Gwadar Port and similarly we will not get anything from Rekodiq,” Dr Mahrang said.
She added that some are exclaiming that they have been able to increase the percentage share of Balochistan to 25 percent but they should first clarify whether they have even been able to see the agreement themselves or not?
Dr Mahrang said that Baloch have been misled enough but this time they will not be deceived with fancy increases in percentages. “Now Baloch people will only follow the path the was envisioned by late Sardar Khair Baksh Marri,” she said referring to Baloch revolutionary leader.
The seminar was attended bya large number of civil society members and several prominent personalities including member of Human Rights Commission Advocate Tahir Hussain, former president of Balochistan Shia Conference, Dawood Agha, former General Secretary of Balochistan Union of Journalists Rasheed Baloch, Senior Journalist Arif Baloch, leader of Voice For Baloch Missing Persons Mama Qadeer Baloch, senior lawyer Advocate Nazeer Agha, Awami National Party leader Malik Ameen Ullah Kakar, write and intellectual Doctor Taj Raisani, Gulzar Dost Baloch, Sangat Rafeeq Baloch, Hazrat Afghan, Professor Haneef Bazai.
It must be noted that the Reko Diq Defense Campaign was launched last week at the University of Balochistan by the Baloch leader and former senator Lashkari Raisani and several other politicians and political workers. Lashkari visited the university in person to hand out leaflets on the Reko Diq project and its detrimental implications for the people of Balochistan.
Speaking to The Balochistan Post, Raisani said: “We have launched a campaign by the name of Reko Diq Defence Campaign against the closed-door agreement on mining in Reko Diq.” He said that the political leaders who are distancing themselves from this issue must understand that this is one major problem that needs to be immediately addressed.
The Reko Diq mining agreement was signed between the government of Pakistan and the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corporation. Under this agreement, Barrick will have the right to mine the resources of Reko Diq for the decades to come. Counted among the largest reservoirs of gold and copper, Reko Diq can produce 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold every year for half a century.
Insurgent groups have also warned Barrick Gold Corporation to back away from the project or “suffer the consequences”.