Balochistan residents welcome pick of non-Chinese firm to mine copper, gold

By Zarak Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan witnesses the agreement signing with officials from Canada-based Barrick Gold Corp. and Chile's Antofagasta in Islamabad on March 20. [Office of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan]

Prime Minister Imran Khan witnesses the agreement signing with officials from Canada-based Barrick Gold Corp. and Chile's Antofagasta in Islamabad on March 20. [Office of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan]

ISLAMABAD -- An agreement between Pakistan and a foreign mining consortium to revive the Reko Diq copper and gold mine is being widely hailed as a positive development for the security situation in insurgency-hit Balochistan province.

Local residents welcome the lack of a Chinese company in the consortium, as past investment projects under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have spurred protests and unrest.

The consortium Tethyan Copper Co. (TCC) -- of which Canadian firm Barrick Gold and Chile's Antofagasta Minerals control 37.5% each -- had found vast gold and copper deposits at Reko Diq.

But the hugely lucrative open-pit mine project came to a standstill in 2011 after the local government refused to renew TCC's lease, and in 2013 Pakistan's top court declared it invalid.

Fishing workers prepare their boats in Gwadar, Pakistan, on February 15. Local residents hold regular protests demanding an end to harassment at security checkpoints leading to the BRI project and to illegal deep-sea fishing by local and Chinese trawlers. [Zarak Khan/Pakistan Forward]

Fishing workers prepare their boats in Gwadar, Pakistan, on February 15. Local residents hold regular protests demanding an end to harassment at security checkpoints leading to the BRI project and to illegal deep-sea fishing by local and Chinese trawlers. [Zarak Khan/Pakistan Forward]

In 2019, the World Bank's arbitration tribunal committee imposed a $5.8 billion penalty on Pakistan for unlawful denial of mining.

After a decade-long legal battle, Pakistani officials announced the out-of-court settlement with Barrick Gold on March 20.

With the reconstitution of the project, Barrick Gold will own 50%, Pakistani federal government enterprises 25% and the Balochistan government 25%.

Barrick will invest almost $10 billion in Balochistan and will create more than 8,000 jobs, Prime Minister Imran Khan's office said in a statement.

About $1 billion of the investment will go into building roads, schools and hospitals and creating technical training institutes for mining in the region, it added.

The project "will potentially be the largest gold & copper mine in the world", tweeted Khan, who attended the agreement-signing ceremony.

"It will liberate us from crippling debt & usher in a new era of development & prosperity," he said.

The landmark project will help Balochistan to progress and develop, and will contribute to eradicating insurgency, said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

"Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, will benefit for over 100 years from this project and the total worth is estimated to be over $100 billion," he said at a news conference March 20.

Balochistan -- which borders Afghanistan and Iran -- is the country's largest and least developed region, despite its abundance of natural resources.

Pakistan has been battling low-level insurgency in the province since 2003 waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.

The insurgent groups mainly target Pakistani security forces, but with the arrival of the BRI in the province in 2015, they have targeted Chinese investments as well.

Protesting Chinese companies' inhumane practices

Beijing in recent years has inked deals with Islamabad for several multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects.

But the deals have raised concerns among local residents about Chinese influence and resentment over the companies' labour practices, particularly paying Chinese nationals more than Pakistani workers.

For example, the Saindak Copper-Gold Mine has been leased to the Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. (MCC) since 2001.

Both Saindak and Reko Diq are situated in Chaghi district, Balochistan.

Over several days in late February, residents held a large protest, led by women, against MMC for its inhumane acts against local employees and the closure of roads, schools and shops.

"The Chinese company has made the lives of local residents and employees miserable," said Zulekha, a housewife, who took part in the protest.

Her husband, a Saindak miner, has not been allowed to go home for the past six months in the name of coronavirus pandemic-linked precautions.

Local residents may not even go to the Saindak hospital for treatment, she said.

In Gwadar, where a deepwater port project is a flagship of the BRI, frequent protests have demanded an end to the harassment of locals at security checkpoints and to illegal deep-sea fishing by local and Chinese trawlers, which deprives local fishermen of their livelihoods.

In January 2021, a provincial court stopped Pakistani authorities from building a barbed-wire fence around the port in Gwadar that locals said would have complicated the movements of more than 300,000 residents of the district and prevented fishermen from reaching sea access points.

Chinese investment spurring militancy

Political leaders and security analysts hailed Pakistan's agreement with TCC on the Reko Diq mining project and said that engaging with non-Chinese companies will help the government curb the insurgency that has been fuelled by Chinese investment.

"Instead of making the areas such as Chaghi and Gwadar hubs of trade and creating employment opportunities for local youth .... Chinese companies have been forcing Pakistani authorities to make the areas a security zone and to limit residents' movements," said Bashir Hout, a Gwadar-based civil society activist.

"Chinese companies have been exploiting local resources with no concern about the impact their actions have on the local population," he said.

Rather than turn towards Beijing, Hout said, Islamabad should ink agreements with European and North American companies that respect the local population, support labour rights and carry out development projects in the areas in which they work.

Chinese investment in Balochistan without the public's consent is further worsening the overall security situation in the province, he said.

Anger over growing Chinese influence in Balochistan has spurred Baloch and Sindhi militant organisations to ally with each other, fuelling concern that the combined group will step up violent activities in the region.

The Baloch Raji Aajoi Saangar (BRAS), an alliance of four Baloch separatist groups, and the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, are now working together "in light of the current scenario in the region as both [Balochs and Sindhis] have severe reservations over growing Chinese influence", BRAS said in a statement in July 2020.

"Formation of the BRAS to target Chinese investments and Pakistani security forces is the main reason behind the recent surge in the ethnic insurgency in the province," a Quetta-based law enforcement official said on condition of anonymity.

On February 2, militants from the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a banned separatist group, staged twin assaults on army posts in Noshki and Panjgur districts, Balochistan.

"The February 2 attacks, hours before Prime Minister Imran Khan's China visit [at the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics], were linked with the Baloch population's grievances with Beijing over its exploitation of [Balochistan's] natural resources," said Mujtaba Baloch, a Panjgur-based political activist.

In 2021, Balochistan witnessed a 93% increase in terrorist attacks, mainly from separatist groups, compared to the previous year, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank.

On August 20, a BLA suicide bomber killed two children in an attack on Chinese nationals in Gwadar.

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Part 15: However, it must be acknowledged that in our country, some appointments to lower-level posts are now made through transparent examinations, which can be considered a step in the right direction. But sadly, in the higher levels of the country, these issues are rarely addressed. The most critical and painful problem is that we do not have a clear cadre policy, and if we have one, no one knows, and no action will be taken. It raises more doubts, reduces people's trust in the system, and does not know why and who is involved? Learn from Singapore in building institutions. Institutions are the rules of the game. Institutions are formal structures that determine how politics and economics work. Typical examples are constitutions, legal systems, legislatures, political parties, etc. Institutions are measured structures that meet the basic needs of society, control habits and actions. Experts say that foundations save societies from disintegration, but only if there is something or someone that protects foundations from disintegration. The criterion for being institutionalized is that at every level, a value becomes institutionalized, the more people support it, and if someone tries to try to tries grab it from them, they would oppose it.


Part 14. Singapore's Lessons in Economics, Politics, and Governance: if we also learn from the lessons of the world like Singapore, which tried to learn from each country, but use the lessons according to its circumstances, and in the meantime, we do not only forget our values but also develop them further, make sustainable and unbreakable investments in our national foundations (institutions), make our foreign policy like this, we have a solid internal foundation and not forget our strategic location and demographic structure, not let our ethnic structure cause hypocrisy or weakness, but consider it strength we will get rid of the evil policies of the neighbors and other invaders, and that is something that Afghans need to pay close attention to, focus on and focus on the national determination at the center of their national strategies. Singapore's leaders have pursued a cadre policy that seeks to find the most genuinely qualified cadres in the country, with appointments to senior positions based solely on meritocracy. Singapore's first prime minister Kuan Yew says, when they were getting convinced that a cadre has more professional, technical skills and abilities, then they were studying them from the angle of character and personality, or in other words, their talents, education, experience, loyalty to the country, among other things, gave high importance to the candidate's character and integrity. But when someone was trusted, they would give them full authority and a cha


Part 13. ... which they say paved the way for a man like Trump. They say Trump is not the real problem but the sign of the problem; America's problems are profound. We can see more examples of this in our area. Iran's regional hegemony and the idea of reviving the Persian Empire, interfering in the affairs of others, with the idea of subjugating the area of Iranian civilization in the region, gave birth to puppets in the neighboring countries, including Afghanistan that sacrificed their national honors for their (Iranians)' benefits, they have no shame, and other interventions forced some Arab and Gulf countries to lend a helping hand to the Zionist regime, the eternal enemy of the Islamic world. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our leaders to tell the people the truth about the country's problems and create a participatory national vision, national sovereignty, Islamic and Afghan identity, a civilized and prosperous region. To formulate and implement policies and strategies in various national fields and sectors in a scientific and contemporary way to survive as a united nation.


Part 12: I told a Ministerial Coordination Meeting a few years ago that Afghanistan is now in a state of failure, I was criticized. I said I don't mean to target anyone precisely and that it was the cause of the unhappiness of the last half a century. That is why we cannot govern ourselves. We cannot feed our people; others bring us the policies of their countries, our neighbors are waiting for any chance to target us, all the organizations of the world consider us to have a fragile state. But the fact is that sometimes the existing threats, the inaction of others, and own mistakes give birth to national heroes. Historians and international relations experts say the West and Russia influenced the conditions for Putin to emerge as a national leader in Russia at the time. The Russians, who had lost the Soviet determination, were greatly insulted, moved, and raised again. On the other hand, bigotry and overconfidence can lead to a long sleep. According to one international analyst (Mahbubani) and other researchers, the Cold War ended when the Soviet Union was defeated. The West raised the flame of new world order, imagining that it would forever be the world's superpower. So others have to obey their orders and prohibitions. Kishore Mahbubani, a former director of the Lee Kuan Yew Institute for Policy in Singapore, an international relations analyst and author of "Has the West Lost it" and many other international relations books, and many other Western analysts Chris Hedge, Noma


Part 11: They promised their people that they would work tirelessly to build institutions. As promised, they are at the forefront of the world in providing three things to their people in Singapore; providing a better education system, creating a high-quality healthcare system - that adds human capital to the foundation of any kind of development and also makes it competitive in the world economy, trade and technology, and third is providing equal opportunities to its people, so that no one will feel deprived and they will be able to live a prosperous life with the help of their energy, efforts and hard work. Telling the truth about challenges, mistakes, and threats to the nation: Our culture has a gap that hides challenges, errors, and threats from the people. One can understand that it is our cultural thing that Mr. Karzai said we are lions. Sir Ashraf Ghani often said, we have a history of 5,000 years, we have underground treasures, and we connect South and Central Asia, but they never told the people that we have such problems and would not take care of it will hinder us.


Part 10: They said that we are human beings too. We must do what others have never done, become so united that the expectation of someone else's interference disappears. Our diversity should not be our weakness but our strength. We must show this to the world, not in words but actions. Tharman says, "our leaders have promised the nation that they will be free from fraud and corruption and stand firm." Although we were once a British colony, our leaders taught there. We adopted a free-market policy. But our leaders said that we would make policies and systems according to our conditions and culture. We would design the system in a way to be relevant to the whole world. All see it as a scientific, technological, and scientific center. Our country's leaders have said we must show our people in action that we work for them. We are bettering their lives. We are doing our best for them and our children, expecting them to help us. Also, another Singaporean leader said: "we will invest in raising the political consciousness of our people, respecting their human rights, but we must not surrender to the immature democracy that will not be applicable in the Eastern countries. We will use pragmatism and rationality instead of any political ideology. We will see which policy will work in our conditions and which will fail and in that "We are not influenced by any foreign country, be it Asian, European or American."


Part 9: It is now a fact that the evil forces that our forefathers showed them humanity, we have ruled over them, now consider themselves the ones who determine our destiny. We do not need to complain about it. It is the world's custom that no one gives a chance to the opponent to raise his head. As martyr Daud Khan (the late Afghan president) had said, if we are not self-sufficient, no one will respect us. It is naive to see that other countries would be paying the payment of our soldiers and nurses. Then they would respect us, they would be choosing our future, and they would look at us as an independent state, others would be making us fight, and the world will be looking at us as sound people. If one thinks so, he is blind and no more stupid than they would exist in the world. We need to learn from Singapore's leaders: "After independence, we had no history, no old culture, no natural resources, no vast lands, and no agriculture, and we were a small country. The regional powers wanted us to follow their policies. Every moment it was possible as they subdued us. Our people were ununited and racially divided. We had more languages and religions and little hope of remaining as a single nation. A prominent Singaporean politician, Tharman, also the country's Deputy Prime Minister, said that our founding leaders sat together. After assessing the situation, they explained the facts, challenges, and threats to the people. But with determination, good plans, and joint work, they pu


Part 8: in the international capitals, international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc., call Afghanistan fragile like some other countries, including Somalia, Mali, Congo, and South Sudan. Yes, it is a bitter fact that now we cannot manage ourselves. We cannot provide our people with bread. The people do not think of national interests. They are only in favor of their goods and choose the fate of our country. For this reason, we have not won those historical pride, but it causes ignorance in the past. A poet says: If I am not talented enough in life () Till, when should I feel proud of my grandpa? So, if Singapore did not have history and historical pride, they rewrote the history; however, we did not get the advantage of the history at all, but it made us ignorant. Whatever past we had, if we would not cheat ourselves, the Afghan pride, sacred faith, patriotism, and other good values that we have had vanish, and now those who call themselves our leaders are not feeling ashamed in the doors of aliens. Unfortunately, no national figures are seen in our country's cadres that would have leadership ability. Among those of us who have studied and got an education and have political experience, no one is there to properly describe the country's current situation, create a national vision, and bring together the people. Most of our so-called intellectuals are not involved in the regional competitions for t


Part 7: we see that those who looted our nation's money make a 180-grade change when they get disappointed and start to destroy the country's bases. When it comes to the problem, it is the historical mistake of our leaders because we have not mixed patriotism and rely on ourselves, our God, and our people. The country's true, political, economic, and cultural independence is a sacred wish in our culture, educational system, policies, and life. If we created such a culture, it would have affected our nation. If they lost their determination, others would not have followed them. If they would not be ashamed of God, they would have been ashamed of his creatures. Instead of the past living in the present like Singapore: sometimes we say that we are lions, sometimes we are proud of our five thousand years long history, and sometimes we say that Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers and other times we say different things. On the other side, I can remember that in the past, when someone was getting disappointed, he was saying, God makes it that of Russians. Then when the internal conflicts began, we were asking for the United Nations. When the international community came in 2002, besides the propagations above, the windfall money created false hope that either today or tomorrow, Afghanistan would change to Switzerland either today or tomorrow. Still, the reality is that if the international community's aid is not appropriately used, it will not bring development, and it will


Part 6: The people of Singapore have always adhered to Einstein's saying, "no problem can be solved with the level of thought that has arisen from." So first, they identify the ideas that caused the problems, and then they seek solutions to the problem with the help of new thinking. One of the significant problems of nations, communities, and organizations in crisis is that neither they have a common vision nor can they create one. A shared vision means being able to create a shared vision of the future that everyone wants. If that is the case, then the educated people of Afghanistan and those who feel responsible should work for the same aspiration and vision to survive as a nation. Suppose we set such an ideal and aspiration according to our circumstances, and we would not consider it the duty of only one person. In that case, we will bring it to every man and woman, young and old; we incorporate it into the culture, not consider it the motto of any leader or politician. Still, it finds a way into the hearts of all people. We will become a steel-strong nation against the aliens, and we will get rid of the evil of our evil neighbors, but it requires more work and determination.


Part 5: creating a national vision like Singapore. As Singapore set its vision after independence, and that was: "Singapore should be an independent and self-sufficient country." Singapore publicized this vision, spread it to every human being in the country, informed the people about its philosophy and aspirations, and rallied its people to this cause. They conveyed the aspirations mentioned above to everyone in a very artistic way through language, essays, stories, novels, paintings, sculptures, songs, plays, and other means to be absorbed in their personality and transform into their culture. Also, they put it in the education system's curriculum to affect their spirit and soul. They are still working towards this grand goal because they want the current situation to continue and develop further, realize this dream, formulate and implement new policies and strategies, and invest in them under the new conditions. Hence, patriotism and love of their religious and national values occur in their veins and blood. Researchers say that an ordinary and national perspective is important in a country but more important in countries facing demographic and geographical problems.


Part 4: Such leadership and partnership should be a model for our leadership aspirants. Afghanistan urgently needs to develop a better cadre policy based on meritocracy, commitment to national and religious values, and better character. Afghanistan needs to create a public institute to train experts in designing, evaluating, and implementing public policy. The state leadership must tolerate critical national figures, respect important legal initiatives and decisions. Also, our emerging cadres should not quickly grow wings, get lost in personal agendas, and should work in a team instead. A political awareness should be developed in the country that people should vote for a team of committed and faithful leaders who can implement a solid policy. No one person can solve big problems on their own. Our educational institutions and the education system must be reformed and developed to play a significant role in identifying, training, and developing the best leadership talents. Where there should be civil policy and party elections, parties should be all-inclusive under this law and not represent only a single ethnic group. According to the law, political parties should pave the way for competent cadres instead of patronizing and inheriting leadership.


Part 3: Many writers worldwide have attributed Singapore's development to some of its most influential leaders. Although each was a world-renowned leader, manager, strategist, and activist, they never had a personal agenda. They remained committed to a single national agenda that always had a positive impact on each other. They had social leadership and did not think about their interests. One of the hallmarks of great personalities is that they are humble, skeptical of their opinions, and listen to their peers. Here, Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and first Prime Minister of Singapore, who is considered by international experts to be the founder and architect of his country, spoke of his country's national hero and his friend and the minister of defense, education, national industries, and finance affairs at various times in his cabinet, Dr. Goh Keng-Swee, at his retirement ceremony and said, "you transformed Singapore's armed forces into an honest and patriotic entity, you quipped them with heavy and light weapons; all sorts of bullets, rockets, mortars and tanks, you revived the education of more than half of our students who dropped out of school, and who have increased the number of illiterates and now they love unity and also being at the forefront of the world, you have made our industries leaders in the region and in the world, you made our airline, aircraft and world-renowned airport ahead of the competitors, you have spent your whole life and you devoted your youth to the


Part 2: The context of Afghanistan will be somewhat different from that of Singapore, but some of the conditions and events are very similar to our country and many other countries. Therefore, Singapore's experience in the world has been declared researchable by experts from many countries such as Nigeria, other African countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, and especially China. Many books were written, study articles were published, and talks were held on it at various discussion tables. But it must be said that all of Singapore's achievements would be educational for some countries, as its development model was important to China. Perhaps China would not need Singapore's experience to survive. It is also true that the domestic, economic, security, and regional and international policies cannot be separated from each other. I think each of Singapore's experiences has a lot for Afghanistan to learn, and maybe we can make the most of it according to our circumstances. Below, I will point out some of the critical issues for us.


With the new government in Afghanistan, confidence in China has increased, and the new rulers are trying to get money, whether it is based on the standards or not, but they trust everyone. One of them is China. China has been a good partner for some countries, but it finally left them in debt and took their roads, factories, railroads, and airports. The Taliban should develop a plan for how Singapore made progress if they want to help the country develop. Fundamental and Important reasons for Singapore's Development and Lessons for Afghanistan: Part 1. why should Afghanistan learn from Singapore and consider it an example? The simple answer is that Singapore has emerged from such a state of weakness that it neither had the resources nor the prospect of becoming a nation nor has the surrounding powers allowed it to stand on its own two feet. It had an internal structure of Malayali, Tamil, and Chinese ethnic groups. There was no shared history. China, Malaysia, and Indonesia were the major regional powers. They took advantage of their ethnic differences and vulnerability due to their geopolitical, geostrategic locations. Its weaknesses were exploited by many regional powers like China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others. Britons have made it a geopolitical, geostrategic location for controlling the trade and military ways. For this reason, the Asian powers also looked at it in this same vision, and different big games were going on there compared to that in Afghanistan. So how Si


Balochs and Balochistan do not have problems only with China. China has a cruel and unjust system, but the Baloches' problem is with Pakistan. Pakistan has encroached on the natural resources of the people of Balochistan. Pakistani intelligence agencies brutally kill Baloch youth. Pakistan's terrorist army drops innocent Balochs from planes and tortures them in various ways. The international community should urge Pakistan to stop its atrocities against the Balochs and not to plunder the Baloch's wealth and minerals. The agreements that are being made should be made directly with Balochistan instead of Pakistan because Pakistan is the second name of Punjab. Balochs and Pashtuns, the original inhabitants of Balochistan, should be employed in these companies, not Punjabis.