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Security Concerns – Pakistan Supreme Court asks Army to weigh in on Reko Diq

Posted by yourpakistan on February 23, 2011

Apex court wishes to know if the project violates any defence concerns. The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Deputy Attorney General to seek the army’s opinion on the Reko Diq project in light of national security, and inform the court on Wednesday.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary heard a number of petitions challenging the award of the contract to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a Canadian consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals for exploiting gold and copper in Reko Diq.
“There was no clause in the agreement on the protection of areas geographically sensitive from a defence point of view,” the chief justice remarked during the hearing. “National Interest and sovereignty should figure prominently in such agreements.”

The Pakistan army had no objection to mining after a briefing on the agreement, counsel for TCC Khalid Anwar apprised the court. Chaghi is a sensitive area but 20 other companies are operating there, he said, adding that TCC has given an application for a lease licence.

“No licence will be issued until the final judgment of the apex court,” Advocate General Balochistan said, adding he had yet to receive the application. The chief justice asked why the former governor of Balochistan relaxed regulations while awarding the contract for exploration and was informed by the counsel for BHP-Billiton Abdul Hafeez Pirzada that “the agreement was not approved by the Governor but the Balochistan government.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.


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