Few days ago a bill was presented in Pakistan’s upper legislative house (The Senate) to transfer the rights to Rekodiq reservoir and other mineral resources to the federal government. The bill was passed without any significant opposition. Prior to this bill being presented in Senate, the ruling party of Balochistan BAP had presented a resolution in favour of the bill in Balochistan assembly. Both Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Jamiat Ulema e Islam (JUI) had opposed the bill.
The main objective of this bill is to give legal status and protection to the agreement that was entered between Barrick Gold Corporation and Pakistani state in March. Before this bill, Pakistan’s superior judicial authority , the Supreme Court, had ruled that the agreement between Barrick Gold and federal government of Pakistan was lawful and transparent.
The Rekodiq agreement has attracted controversies from the beginning. The people of Balochistan consider the agreement an exploitative project that will benefit international conglomerates and Pakistan’s federal government. Projects like Saindak, Sui Gas and various other extraction projects of Baloch natural resources are directly benefiting Pakistani state and its allied powers, instead of being beneficial to ordinary Baloch.
According to 18th amendment of Pakistan’s constitution, the provinces were granted full rights to their natural resources. Passing such a bill, while the 18th amendment is still enacted, is a direct violation of provincial autonomy and their rights.
Balochistan’s former Chief Minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, claims that his government was toppled because he had refused to approve the Rekodiq agreement. Whereas, it appears People’s Party, that has always been taking credit of the 18th amendment, is also hands in gloves with Pakistan’s ruling party PML-N in violating the rights of Balochistan.
People of Balochistan are protesting against the Rekodiq project and the new bill. Balochistan’s parliamentary parties and the pro-independence organisations have opposed the Rekodiq project alike. BNP-M has called for protests across Balochistan against this bill, while in a social media campaign by Baloch Yakjehti Committee, people from all walks of life had expressed their opposition against the exploitative project.
After the agreement between Pakistani state and Barrick Gold Corporation, BRAS, an umbrella organisation of several pro-independence armed organisations, had said in a media statement that they completely reject the agreement between “Pakistani occupying state” and Barrick Gold Corporation. The group had termed the agreement an attempt to plunder Baloch national resources. The group had warned Barrick Gold to stay away from Rekodiq or “BRAS will go to any extent to defend the Baloch land and the resources.”
All projects, including the Rekodiq project, in Balochistan have failed to benefit the ordinary Baloch people. Instead such projects have aggravated the feelings of discontentments and have resulted in prevailing anger. If such projects continue, without the consent and approval of Baloch people, then there is possibility of even further resistance against these projects. Such acts will benefit the pro-independence organisations because these projects confirm the stance of these organisations.