‘Cold War’ over Balochistan’s Mineral Resources
By Sajjad Shaukat
While giving the example of the former Soviet Union and the United States, past thinkers have defined the Cold War to be a war of nerves, the line falling short of hot war. In this regard, both the super powers had openly admitted that they are waging the Cold War. But in the present word, ‘cold war’ includes hidden agenda of cover activities against a rival country or a number of countries. Although secret strategy is employed against an opponent country or countries, yet economic aims which have gained much importance are preferable in this war of nerves. Despite all of this, the real purpose of a country or an alliance remains to weaken an adversary or other alliance, even through subversive acts. In this context, secret diplomacy of the past is also being applied.
In this connection, despite rapidly development projects in Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan and supply of various services to the Baloch people by Pakistan’s civil and military authorities to remove a sense of deprivation in the people of the province, American CIA, Indian secret agency, RAW, Israeli Mossad have accelerated their common plot against Balochistan as part of the cold war in order to obtain their secret collective designs against the integrity of Pakistan.
It is mentionable that the ideal geo-strategic location of Balochistan with Gwadar seaport could prove to be Pakistan’s key junction, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia. It is due to multiple strategic benefits that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to control Balochistan as an independent state in counterbalancing China and containing Iran. Owing to these reasons, America and India are creating instability in the province by backing Baloch separatists to complete their hidden agenda.
Notably, Balochistan is replete with mineral resources of various types. In this regard, Saindak project-full of gold and copper mines has its own importance. American companies had an eye on the project. But Pakistan had given the contract of Saindak mining project to state-owned Chinese firm, Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC). In May, 2011, Pakistan gave five years extension to that Chinese firm—after it agreed to pay five percent additional shares to Balochistan government. The multimillion dollar gold and copper deal which was extended ahead of expiry of company’s existing contract in October 2012, “Pakistan and China finalised new terms and conditions in revised deal on during recent visit of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilain to China.
However, it was due to Pak-China deal in connection with the Saindak project that CIA, RAW and Mossad increased their secret support to the separatist elements of Balochistan in order to continue subversive acts in the province.
Notably, in the recent past, US ambassador in Pakistan, Cameron Munter had made strenuous efforts by requesting to the Pakistan rulers so as to open a US consulate in Balochistan, but knowing the real designs of America, Islamabad had flatly refused the request.
Nevertheless, in wake of several on-going mega development projects in Balochistan, Reko-Diq gold and copper mining project is considered to be the biggest national strategic asset that would make Balochistan as the richest province in the country.
Experts who are involved in mining and exploration opine that some 12.3 million tons of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold lie in the Reko Diq area (EL-5), located in the Chaghi area of Balochistan. This discovery had enticed mining magnets to start behind-the-scene lobbying for getting the contract from Balochistan Development Authority (BDA). Majority of experts agree, “The 300-km-long Chagai porphyry copper belt had 48 deposits and prospects containing porphyry-type alteration and mineralisation. Three medium-sized porphyry copper deposits are present in the belt at Saindak and Tanjeel and H8 at Reko Diq, the former currently providing small scale production. The H14-H15 copper-gold deposit at Reko Diq, currently at the feasibility stage, is world-class and contains open pittable resources of approximately 18 million tons of copper and 32 million Oz of gold.”
Nevertheless, the BDA had given the licence for EL-5 to a Canadian and Chilean company “Tethyan Copper Company” (TCC). Under the agreement, 75 per cent shares were given to TCC and 25 per cent to the BDA.
Various reports have revealed that the US $ 52 billion of natural deposit would be sold for just US $ 08 billion to TCC, while question arose as to why 75% of reserves are being given to get 25% back after investing 25% in (EL-5) project? Last yeer, TCC repeatedly claimed that Reko Diq had only 2.2 billion pounds of “mine-able” copper (10 million tons), these experts hired by TCC in 2008 had found the deposit of copper to be 18 million tons. Likewise while TCC furhter disclosed that gold deposits are only 13 million ounces of payable metal, while some the experts had estimated it to be 32 million ounces. What is the difference between a “mine-able” and “payable” ore and by using “ton” and “tonne” in the same statement is not evident to ordinary people but the US company, also working in Reko Diq, as TCC was twisting its statements.
Technical experts are of the opinion that only a small part of the Reko Diq gold and copper mines (EL-5) have deposits worth US$270 billion. Two additional licences for EL-6 & EL-8 deposits were given to the same company (TCC) on a 100 per cent ownership basis and without any share to the government of Pakistan.
The people of Balochistan feel dissatisfied by this unjust and controversial licence (EL-5) to TCC. It is generally believed that the contract to TCCP had been grossly undervalued and the actual project estimate should be in the billions of dollars. Taking cognizance of the fact in relation to the deal with of TCCP, the Government of Balochistan announced the cancellation of the Reko Diq agreement.
It is worth-mentioning that Benway, a private corporation incorporated in New York State since 1998 with 38 shareholders, mostly US citizens including some foreign nationals. Its business is mining and works to discover copper and gold deposits. Corporation’s chief Sheikh Tanvir revealed that they were not fully telling the truth. He explained that Barrick Gold Corporation went to Benway in 2007 to go into a joint venture with Benway on EL-24 in Chagai Balochistan, owned by Benway. He furhter maintained, “Barrick in 2007 offered us a package of $10.6 million. We refused that very very low offer. Then Barrick and Antofagasta’s front company TCC invited Balochistan officials to Toronto and Chile and ended up building an airport on EL-24 instead of their EL-5. We went to Balochistan High Court against 3 international companies and their front company, TCC Pakistan.”
America which was fully interested in the Reko Diq project, got frustrated when the Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of the project. Some sources say that China through diplomatic channel had requested Pakistan to award the site of Reko Diq to MCC but Pakistan had declined the request fearing a possible legal battle with TCC that was recently facing a case in the Supreme Court in relation to its deal. However, Pakistan’s high officials want to give the contract of this project to the Chinese firm, MCC after the verdict of the court.
As a matter of fact, it is owing to mineral resources of Balochistan—especially gold and copper that US-led India and Israel including Karzai-led regime of Afghanistan have accelerated their subversive acts such as bomb blasts, suicide attacks and targeted killings—fuelling sectarian violence in the province.
In this context, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and an another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from RAW and CIA, and are also working against the cordial relationship of Pakistan with China and Iran. In the past few years, their militants kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. In this respect, Jundollah arranged a number of suicide attacks in Iran, while Tehran had directly named CIA for patronage of those terrorist attacks.
As part of the cold war, the main aim of these foreign secret agencies is to create instability and insecurity in Balochistan which has not only ideal strategic location, but is replete with diversified minerals.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations