Thursday, 7 April 2011

Reko Diq: TCC's lawyers pleading Supreme Court to leave the contract intact

The Balochistan government on Wednesday prayed to the Supreme Court not to set aside the Balochistan High Court judgement, as it would benefit the Zionist Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), therefore, the court should decide the matter on merit. Amanullah Kanrani Advocate General Balochistan said the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) would remain intact even if the Court scraps the BHC judgement. He was of the view that the TCC that would be benefited from scrapping BHC verdict is itself opposing and wanted time. He said the TCC has not yet deposited fee worth Rs 0.3 million, though JVA was signed in 1993. The counsel for TCC, Fakhar-ud-Din G Ibrahim, prayed to the court not to set aside Balochistan High Court verdict and said: ‘Give us some time so that matter could be resolved outside the court room, adding, the parties are ready to negotiate, while the court keep the case pending’. The court observed that throughout the beginning of the case Balochistan govt has been in favour to set aside the BHC judgement. The Chief Justice said ultimately the Balochistan government has to settle the issue. He said if the Balochistan was given due share in NFC award it would then be a developed province.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan
Raza Kazim, representing Maulana Abdul Haq and others, stated they have filed the case for the interest of Balochistan people and therefore the court should go into depth of the Reko Diq project. He said: “my clients don’t see negotiation out of the court as the TCC talking about negotiation with the government of Balochistan”. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprised Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani was hearing case relating to the exploration of gold and copper from Reko Diq. The bench has been hearing various Constitutional petitions filed by Muhammad Tariq Asad, ASC, Watan Party, Maulana Abdul Haque Baloch and around 26 Senators including Dr Ismail Buledi, Azam Khan Swati, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Hafiz Abdur Rasheed and others under Article 184(3) of the Constitution against leasing out of Reko Diq gold and copper mines in Balochistan to foreign exploration and mining companies in violation of law for the last four months. The TCC lawyer stated that clause 15 of JVA deals with the international arbitration, in which the company would benefit.

Justice Sair Ali questioned if the court declares JVA null and void then whether the arbitration clause would survive? The JVA was against the Pakistani laws from the very existence. Khalid Anwar, TCC counsel, said that there was clear decision available to the Government of Balochistan (GoB) whether it wanted the JAV or not? He said that the GoB relaxed the rules not the BHP Australia but for its own benefit. It was for the contract of enforcement mechanism so that no party could say that other party did illegal with and it and give me relief. The Chief Justice said it was the BHP that suggested for relaxation in the rules and not the Balochistan government. Anwar argued that since the case began the criticism were lavished on the GoB and not the BHP for failing to protect the interest of the locals. He said that though the relaxations were 13 in number but their main objectives were only three.

  1. “The BHP did not want to deal with the provincial bureaucracy but wanted the involvement of the GoB”.
  2. “Mining lease is given to BHP automatically”.
  3. “The arbitration clause”.
Reko Diq Goldmine, Balochistan (Pakistan)
The TCC lawyers pleaded that if contract was canceled then Pakistan would be stigmatised, adding that the foreign companies operating in Balochistan would run away. Kanrani stated that without the permission of Chief Minister Balochistan the agreement was directly sent to the Secretary of Industries. Khalid Anwar argued that later the chief minister approved it and the notification of it was issued, thus it means that the JVA was legally awarded and now the burden was on the GoB. The court asked Khalid Anwar to conduct arguments by Thursday(today) and adjourned the hearing till April 7th (today).

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