Author: Banari Baloch
Balochistan is home to the world’s fifth largest gold reserves, yet the local population remains impoverished and deprived of their fundamental rights. The Saindak Copper-Gold mine project and the Reko-Diq gold mines, both located in the District Chaghi, have been leased to foreign companies without proper monitoring for the past 18 years. In 2004, Pakistan and China signed a contract worth $350 million for the development of the Saindak mine, with the mines leased for a 10-year period to the Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. (MCC), a subsidiary of the MCC. However, the Balochistan government only receives a paltry two percent share of the profits, while half of the profits go to Beijing and 48 percent to the federal government in Islamabad.
The exploitation of Balochistan’s resources has been ongoing since 1952, with large quantities of gas and coal being extracted from the region, yet the people of the area have been denied their rights and benefits. The region has also been exploited for its strategic land, marine resources, uranium, and countless minerals, yet the Baloch people have been left illiterate and destitute.
The current situation in Balochistan, particularly in Gwadar, highlights the suffering of the local population, who have been denied their basic rights for decades in the name of development. The fortified Reko-Diq and Saindak mines are off-limits to the Baloch people, and the region is plagued by high illiteracy rates, illegal activities, crimes, and human rights violations. There are no institutions or developments in Balochistan to make it a peaceful and developed region. Instead, the most lucrative business in the area is drug dealing, which is leading to widespread addiction and death.
The recent passage of the (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022, by both houses of parliament without the assent of the local population has only added to the frustration and mistrust of the government. The Reko-Diq mine is owned 50% by Barrick, 25% by three federal state-owned enterprises, and 25% by the Balochistan government, yet the local population has not seen any benefits from the mine.
It is clear that the exploitation of Balochistan’s resources has always been the primary focus for international companies seeking to benefit from the deal for their own people, yet it has never attracted international attention to condemn this conflict. This proves that it is all about economy, finance, mines, and minerals for developed states, not humanity and human rights. It is a sad reality that power and benefits are prioritized over the welfare of the local population.
The golden treasures of Reko-Diq, if placed under the stewardship of the Baloch, would have been a transformative force for their entire way of life. The saindak project, if executed with the utmost care and attention, would have been a beacon of hope for the Baloch people, lifting them out of poverty and despair. No longer would they have to struggle for their daily bread, walk barefoot, or suffer for a pair of shoes. But alas, the Baloch are not seen as fully human in the eyes of those in power, their lives deemed insignificant and disposable.
Similarly, the rich resources of Gwadar sea, if harnessed for the benefit of the entire Balochistan, would have been a game-changer for the people of Balochistan. They would not have to take to the streets in protest, demanding their basic rights and privileges. But instead, the profits of Gwadar sea are squandered on empty promises of development, leaving the Baloch people to suffer in silence.
It is a tragedy that the plights of Balochistan continue to be ignored, with the treasures of Reko-Diq and the potential of Saindak and Gwadar remaining nothing but myths. It is time for the voices of the Baloch people to be heard and their rights to be respected. It is time for the true potential of Balochistan to be unlocked, for the benefit of all its inhabitants.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.