By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: As public pressure in France mounts on President Nicolas Sarkozi to testify over alleged corruption in the sale of French submarines to Pakistan in the mid-90s, the then Director General Naval Intelligence (DGNI) of Pakistan Navy has offered help to Islamabad and Paris to book the corrupt and bring back the looted money to Pakistan.
Talking to The News, former DGNI Commodore Shahid Ashraf, who by his own account was tortured, harassed and put under illegal custody by the sleuths he once commanded and prematurely retired from the service “for knowing too much about the commission mafia in defence forces”, said that he was willing to cooperate with the Pakistani as well as French authorities. “I have a lot to share with them about the kickbacks in the Agosta submarine deal,” he insisted.
Ashraf, in a recent interview with this newspaper, disclosed certain details of the Agosta submarine deal and revealed while the deal had led to the removal of the then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Mansurul Haq and the framing of a corruption reference against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari but those mighty and powerful in the navy, who made millions of dollars from the deal, were never held accountable. The cover-up in the submarine deal, according to the former DGNI, was meant to save the skin of many in the Pakistan Navy.
To force his silence, he said, he was maliciously charged for getting Rs1.5 million from a naval officer, who was alleged to have got illegal gratification and kickbacks from foreign suppliers of the naval vessels, etc., but was ‘interestingly’ made an approver against the DGNI. On the contrary, a list of naval officers, who were alleged to have received kickbacks, were never touched. Instead, they were promoted as rear admirals.
It is pertinent to point out that a Feb 17, 1995 letter, issued by SOFMA (the French company that was involved in the Agosta deal), talked of making payment of $40,000 to each of the four naval officers whose names were mentioned in the same letter. Instead of probing the four officers, however, each one of them was later elevated as a rear admiral while the DGNI was taken to task for alleged corruption of Rs1.5 million. Interestingly, he was alleged to have received this money from a naval officer, who was getting money from foreign suppliers of the defence deals. As being the DGNI, he had even sought permission of his high command to catch an agent, who was giving bribe money to naval officers but was not allowed to do so.
Besides the then DGNI, the former naval chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza has recently also given credence to the French investigative report that talked of almost $49 million kickbacks in the Agosta-submarine deal allegedly received by President Asif Ali Zardari and others, including the naval officers.
Recently, in an interview with The News, Aziz Mirza had also disclosed that the then Benazir government had urged the Pakistan Navy to go for the French subs. Mirza, while quoting the then Naval Chief Admiral Saeed Khan, had revealed that Benazir Bhutto’s Defence Minister Aftab Shabaan Mirani had clearly indicated to the Pakistan Navy’s high command the Benazir’s government’s preference for the induction of the French submarines.
Despite these clear verbal directions from the defence minister, the naval top command, according to Mirza, had again met and deliberated upon the subject and decided to recommend two options to the government namely the British Upholder and the French Agosta. The government later approved the induction of Agosta. Mirza, who led the Pakistan Navy from Oct 1999 to Oct 2002, said that the Navy first formally came to know about the kickbacks in the Agosta deal in 1998 following which it had proceeded against three officials of the ranks of captain and commodore for taking bribes and they were removed from service.
“My hunch is that besides the politicians, some top ranking naval officers even above the rank of commodore might have also received kickbacks as reflected in the recent French media reports, however, they (the top Naval officials) remained undetected for want of proof or witnesses,” Mirza was quoted to have said, claiming that even the condemned former naval chief Masoor Ul Haq was not convicted of Agosta kickbacks but for the bribes that he had pocketed in the other defence deals.
In Paris, the families of French engineers killed in a 2002 bombing attack in Karachi are pressing President Nicolas Sarkozy to testify over alleged corruption linked to the deaths. A lawyer for the families said they had lodged a demand with investigating magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke to question Sarkozy, former president Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in the case.
Van Ruymbeke is investigating parts of a complex case that has spawned allegations of illegal political funding implicating former prime minister Edouard Balladur, for whom Sarkozy served as campaign spokesman in 1995.
The families suspect that the bombing in Karachi in 2002, which killed 11 French engineers and three others, was prompted by the cancellation of commission payments on sales of French submarines with Pakistan.
French investigative news website Mediapart in June quoted Luxembourg police as saying that a company set up with Sarkozy’s approval had channeled money from arms deal commissions to fund political activities in France.Sarkozy and Balladur have repeatedly dismissed the allegations of illegal party funding and so does President Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan.
By Shaheen Sehbai
WASHINGTON: The mystery of Reko Diq gold mines deepened on Tuesday as the Supreme Court prepared to hear the case on Wednesday, when Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), the Canadian-Chilean giant working in Balochistan, issued a long statement which coincided with a stinging attack on TCC by a US company which has eight exploration licences in Pakistan,
including two in Reko Diq. The official statement by TCC (reported separately in these columns) came 20 days after the original story by The News on how Reko Diq was being sold for a song by the Pakistani government but the statement by Benway Corporation of New York was a stunner as its president and CEO accused TCC and its principals of playing games with Pakistan.
He levelled serious allegations against TCC and Barrick Gold Corporation and announced his company will soon request the Supreme Court of Pakistan to become a party in the Reko Diq case. The company said Reko Diq deposits had not been fully declared to the government of Balochistan by its sponsors.
“They are playing games with their government of Balochistan partners,” CEO and president of Benway Corporation, Sheikh Tanvir, a Pakistani-American, said in the statement. The TCC statement added further confusion to the already complicated situation about the original size of the deposits at Reko Diq, the share of Pakistan and whether laws were followed or twisted.
TCC claimed that the mineral resource at Reko Diq was estimated at 5.9 billion tons. “From this resource, an estimated 2.2 billion tons of economically mine-able ore, with an average copper grade of 0.5 per cent and an average gold grade of 0.3 gms per ton will be processed to produce 2.2 billion pounds of copper (10 million tons) and 13 million ounces of gold in form of payable metal in about 56 years of mine life.”
But this statement militates directly against what the Barrick Gold of Canada told the Canadian and American Mines Handbook, 2009-2010, a bible of the mining industry. It shows Barrick’s 37.5 per cent share of measured and indicated resources in Reko Diq was equal to 1,125,071,000 tons average 0.008 opt gold, for 8,487,000 ounces of gold and 11.5 billion lbs of copper. Inferred resource was shown as 895,089,000 tons average 0.009 opt gold, for 8,398,000 ounces of gold and 8.5 billion pounds of copper.
If this estimate is the share of Barrick, then the Chilean share is exactly the same and Pakistan’s share would be slightly less as Pakistan has 25 per cent stake as against 37.5 per cent each of the two big companies. Experts have to calculate the worth in the present bullish gold and copper market.
The confusion gets further confounded as a 2008 study conducted by both these companies involving top experts of Geology and mining reported much larger deposits. This study was published in “Economic Geology”, a bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists (Vol. 103 December 2008 No. 8), written by Jose Perello of Antofagasta of Chile, Abdul Razique and Asad-ur-Rehman of Tethyan Copper Company, Pakistan and John Schloderer of Albidon Ltd of Australia.
These experts concluded that 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.”
So while on Tuesday TCC 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 today says gold deposits are only 13 million ounces of “payable” metal, 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, in its statement on Tuesday said TCC was twisting words.
“For some 15-20 days we hear TCC keeps saying they are doing everything according to Balochistan Mining Rules of 2002. They say they are doing everything lawful in Pakistan. We disagree with most of what they are telling Pakistani people and the media. They are not fully telling the truth. They twist words,” the Benway statement said.
Sheikh Tanvir heads Benway, a privately held corporation incorporated in New York State since 1998 with 38 shareholders, mostly US citizens, a Canadian, an Australian, a Turk and three 3 Pakistanis. Its business is mining and works to discover copper and gold deposits.
His statement revealed 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, located south of Reko Diq with a 30 km long common border.
“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,” the statement said.
Benway accused Barrick Gold of playing games “with your partners and host country.” “They please officials of GoB and GoP and convince those officials to play games for the sponsors. We believe business must be done truthfully and ethically. Reko Diq was found in 17 years and we believe we have similar deposits and we found this in 3 years. These mining companies are stifling the competition and pushing fair competition laws of US and Pakistan.”
The US company claimed that Barrick Gold had broken Canadian laws. “They have broken Australian laws and they have criminally broken US laws of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. They have broken Pakistani and Balochistani laws by their tangible actions in Balochistan and Pakistan. We believe that highest officials of these corporations are involved, some of them hold the highest civilian awards of Canada.”
The company said now that the Supreme Court of Pakistan was hearing the matter, we are happy that truth will emerge soon. “We are in BHC since May 2008 and we will approach the SC soon to allow us to be disposed in BHC in a speedy manner and/or kindly enter us as the main injured party in SC.”
“We are against the law breaker mining companies. We believe Pakistan and Balochistan are not dependent on a few bad eggs of the mining industry. There are 150 major mining and over 3000 junior mining companies in the world. Pakistan has 1000 choices. It is not because of terrorism that mining companies are not coming to Pakistan. It is because of corruption of officials, politicians and Pakistanis not following Pakistan’s own rules and laws. We will show Pakistan who is right and who is wrong,” the statement concluded.
Pakistan’s political dynamics has seen its different colors over the last six decades. The country saw some of the most oppressive military regimes and also some of the most corrupt periods of elected plutocracy. Our history saw struggles between left and right and also became an active player in the cold war period.
Though our politics has been influenced strongly by the foreign masters of our ruling elites. But in that our establishment has always played a vital role either as a proxy rule for foreign powers or as a king maker in local politics, many times the role has been a mixture of both. The honest reality of our history is that this role of our establishment has seriously dented our political culture, damaged rule of law and also harmed our rights as free citizens of this country.
A country which was founded on the principles of justice and equality didn’t live up to the expectations due to the dismal performance of our establishment and their cultivated corrupt political culture based on feudal-corporatist mindsets. Right from the days of Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistani establishment strengthened its hold on the affairs of the state and its politics. Pakistan was thrown into an unwanted cold war and thus it gave up its freedom which it got few years ago into the hands of imperialist forces lead by USA, which at that time took place of United Kingdom as world super power along with its rival USSR.
Initially establishment rule was evenly balanced between civil and military establishments but later on especially after Ayub Khan martial law, military acted as the main force of establishment. Now by establishment we can easily refer to GHQ as main source of political power. Even Fatimah Jinnah, one of the strong political figure of our country and sister of founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah was not able to defeat this system. But her role in politics did make our establishment to get involved more in party politics or politics of masses. Now if I see things as an ordinary student of politics, foundation of PPP was meant to fill the political vacuum in the country so that those forces including Awami League, Jamat e Islami and others, who opposed Ayub martial law openly could not strengthen their grounds as alternate political reality other than establishment.
This approach worked in West Pakistan due to strong feudal system but failed in East Pakistan so establishment with the backing of feudal political class decided to use force on our own people. And we all know the consequences of 1971 riots and later Indo-Pak war. There was a chance for the nation to learn lessons from the mistakes and change the future course of actions.
But it didn’t happen except for few adjustments, including a real major one of developing 1973 constitution, our political outlook remained same. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was a product of establishment, who tried to become larger than he should be in the eyes of establishment and also started a nuclear program against the wishes of our imperialist masters, became a liability to the system and so he was removed from the scene through Zia martial law and later hanged till death in a murder case of controversial nature.
Removal of Bhutto, instead of giving some relief to martial law forces became counter productive especially in the province of Sind so a new political reality of MQM was given space and support by military establishment. In Zia’s time not only constitution was treated badly but his use of religion to give cover to his oppressive and hypocrite regime proved to be another major blunder in the history of our country.
Later after the death of General(R) Zia ul Haq, PPP with sympathy votes and deals with local and international establishment came into power. Instead of learning from past mistakes and doing accountability of constitutional violations and corruptions by Zia regime, PPP started a new era of corruption and nepotism in Pakistani politics. They were also joined by their rivals, PML(N) which was a product of Zia remains, in this political culture. This culture saw its ups and downs and political maneuvering by establishment through the formation of IJI and sacking of governments.
In this time Nawaz Sharif of PML(N), also emerged as a big political force through a huge mandate in 1997 elections by bagging 137 seats. Nawaz tried to undermine the unwanted reality of our political history i.e. military establishment and did not follow the line of imperialist master while conducting nuclear tests in 1998,was sacked in a military coup by General (R) Musharraf. In Nawaz’s sacking his controversial 15th amendment and attacks on judiciary also played a key role as these actions weakened the rule of law and supremacy of constitution in the country and thus giving more room for unconstitutional measures by opportunist forces of martial law.
Musharraf rule proved to be one of the most disastrous periods of Pakistani history. In this tenure Pakistan get involved into a foreign war and this war was later dragged into our cities through some of the most evil policies. This war and Musharraf’s rule converted the diversity of our society into a clash between sects, ethnicity and social classes.
Actions like attack on Supreme Judiciary, abrogation of constitution, illegal abductions, extra judicial killings, military operations including heavy bombings on civilian areas, 12 May 2007 and 9 March 2007 and others really broke the back of Pakistani economy and society. The society after Musharraf is more fragmented and country is facing some of the worst consequences of his actions.
Then another foreign sponsored deal, between forces of martial law and feudal-corporatist political elite, resulted in current NRO government. In return of Musharraf’s safety and continuation of his imperialist slave policies, current ruling alliance was not only given power but all criminal cases were removed in the name of reconciliation. In the mean time, removal of Benazir Bhutto from the scene also helped her cronies and beneficiaries of NRO deal to capture more sympathy votes. Despite a report by UN, Benazir murder case is still not seeing much progress except for cover ups.
Our history saw politics of so called Left and so called Right, so called Red and so called Green and also the so called struggle between forces of dictatorships and so called forces of democracy. The reality is most of these setups were fake and were meant to serve the goals of ruling elite and their foreign masters.
Old games are now again being played by our ruling elite with assistance from foreign masters. Former dictator Musharraf is planning to come back into politics. Pir Pagara has also started his alliance of failed politicians in the name of uniting Muslim League.
PPP and allied parties are still playing their dirty games to strengthen their rule through fear and control politics as a result a commercial hub like Karachi is seeing one of the worst periods of target killings.Institutional corruption, high inflation and a huge government-created energy crisis to pave way for their corruption in Rental Power Projects are putting us into further economic disaster.
Natural resources and assets are on sale for nothing and again our nation is being fooled just for the monetary gains of few.So called opposition comprising of PML-Q and PML-N are busy in playing their hypocritical role. People are still not able to come out of their prejudices and short term greed and so giving strength to this system through “Zindabad” mentality.
Even floods have not changed the situation much. Supreme Court, which has provided some hope after restoration is being sidelined by government and institutions. Lawyers and media which emerged as a new force in national politics are now being divided through money and threats. Government involvement in SCBA elections and threats to media are examples of this approach. Situation in Afghanistan will come with its own dynamics and impacts on Pakistani politics.
Luckily few good things happened in recent times including the revival of civil society, emergence of free and resilient media, and an independent Supreme Court. These are real challenging times for those who love freedom and justice. These include all those who are struggling for rule of law, justice, accountability, freedom and respect for nation, and above all a better Pakistan. Lot is needed to be done and it seems to be an almost impossible task but lets hope for the best as we are responsible for our actions and decisions not the given conditions and out of control realities.
Below is an article by late Howard Zinn on the issue of war and its role in achieving any good desired goals. A good read for those who are interested in understanding the view other than the one presented by governments fighting this criminal war.
Why War Fails
By Howard Zinn
10/23/06 ” The Progressive” -I suggest there is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks are not only morally reprehensible but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.
In the three years of the Iraq War, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, the United States has failed utterly in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. American soldiers and civilians, fearful of going into the neighborhoods of Baghdad, are huddled inside the Green Zone, where the largest embassy in the world is being built, covering 104 acres and closed off from the world outside its walls.
I remember John Hersey’s novel The War Lover, in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people, and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. George Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier, and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be an embodiment of the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine equally impotent.
The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel. Indeed, it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas, or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.
That failure of massive force goes so deep into history that Israeli leaders must have been extraordinarily obtuse, or blindly fanatic, to miss it. The memory is not lost to Professor Ze’ev Maoz at Tel Aviv University, writing recently in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz about a previous Israeli invasion of Lebanon: “Approximately 14,000 civilians were killed between June and September of 1982, according to a conservative estimate.” The result, aside from the physical and human devastation, was the rise of Hezbollah, whose rockets provoked another desperate exercise of massive force.
The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations. Even though the United States dropped more bombs in the Vietnam War than in all of World War II, it was still forced to withdraw. The Soviet Union, trying for a decade to conquer Afghanistan, in a war that caused a million deaths, became bogged down and also finally withdrew.
Even the supposed triumphs of great military powers turn out to be elusive. After attacking and invading Afghanistan, President Bush boasted that the Taliban were defeated. But five years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country. Last May, there were riots in Kabul, after a runaway American military truck killed five Afghans. When U.S. soldiers fired into the crowd, four more people were killed.
After the brief, apparently victorious war against Iraq in 1991, George Bush Sr. declared (in a moment of rare eloquence): “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.” Those sands are bloody once more.
The same George Bush presided over the military attack on Panama in 1989, which killed thousands and destroyed entire neighborhoods, justified by the “war on drugs.” Another victory, but in a few years, the drug trade in Panama was thriving as before.
The nations of Eastern Europe, despite Soviet occupation, developed resistance movements that eventually compelled the Soviet military to leave. The United States, which had its way in Latin America for a hundred years, has been unable, despite a long history of military interventions, to control events in Cuba, or Venezuela, or Brazil, or Bolivia.
Overwhelming Israeli military power, while occupying the West Bank and Gaza, has not been able to stop the resistance movement of Palestinians. Israel has not made itself more secure by its continued use of massive force. The United States, despite two successive wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not more secure.
More important than the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time always results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms.
The repeated excuse for war, and its toll on civilians-and this has been uttered by Pentagon spokespersons as well as by Israeli officials-is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is “accidental” whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (9/11, Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.
This is a false distinction. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the ground that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word “suspected” as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), it is argued that the resulting deaths of women and children is not intended, therefore “accidental.” The deaths of innocent people in bombing may not be intentional. Neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”
So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a “deliberate” attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far greater than all the deaths of innocent people deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reconsider the morality of war, any war in our time.
It is a supreme irony that the “war on terrorism” has brought a higher death toll among innocent civilians than the hijackings of 9/11, which killed up to 3,000 people. The United States reacted to 9/11 by invading and bombing Afghanistan. In that operation, at least 3,000 civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes and villages, terrorized by what was supposed to be a war on terror. Bush’s Iraq War, which he keeps linking to the “war on terror,” has killed between 40,000 and 140,000 civilians.
More than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by U.S. bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the twentieth century and they do not equal that awful toll.
If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism.
And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, must reconsider their policies. When such practical considerations are joined to a rising popular revulsion against war, perhaps the long era of mass murder may be brought to an end.
By Sohail Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the heads of secret agencies, directing them to submit a report by November 25 pertaining to 11 prisoners who had gone missing from the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Ghulam Rabbani, was hearing a case of 11 missing prisoners of the Adiala Jail, allegedly handed over to secret agencies by the jail authorities.
The court issued notices to the heads of secret agencies, including the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI), seeking their comments on the disappearance of the 11 prisoners.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq again told the court that the whereabouts of the 11 missing prisoners could not be found. He informed the court that he had approached the concerned authorities, including the Interior Ministry, but they denied having any information about the whereabouts of the missing prisoners.
Online adds: It may be recalled that it is for the first time in history that notices have been issued to heads of intelligence agencies in a case.The AG said that intelligence agencies personnel wanted to tell the court something secretly.
“The case is in open court. No talks can be held with the intelligence agencies in separation. Evidences are available under whose custody the prisoners are kept. The court should not be forced to go to extreme end. If matter proceeds further, more complications will arise. The country cannot afford a clash among the institutions. Action will be taken against all the persons involved in this incident indiscriminately. All will have to appear after the reply is received. It can lead to dire consequences if the matter is not resolved soon,” the CJP remarked.
The chief justice noted that it was not appropriate for him aswell as other judges to meet them in chamber and observed that everyone should respect the court and avoid disharmony. He said the apex court was responsible for safeguarding its constitutional obligations, keeping in view Articles 9,25,4 and 10-A of the Constitution.
The CJP asked the AG, “You are Amicus Curiae of the court, therefore, you should play your role for resolution of this problem.” When the court resumed the hearing after the intermission, the AG said the intelligence agencies were holding the same stance that these prisoners were not in their custody.Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till November 25 after issuing notices to heads of the intelligence agencies.
Recently, Transparency International published their Corruption Perception Index in which Pakistan was placed at 34th position. Also in UN Humanitarian Development Index, Pakistan is proudly placed at 125 with Zimbabwe at lowest on 169 and small countries like Srilanka and Maldives in better positions of 99 and 107 than World’s 7th Nuclear Power. Many people especially those with some sort of sympathies with our ruling elite criticize the authenticity of these indexes.
One of the main argument presented against the results is lack of understanding by these institutions about the local conditions and environment. This criticism seems to be valid and genuine because if the analysis is based on real conditions then the results might come out worse.
If we look at the problems a common person faces due to corruption, law and order situation, and incompetent governance then the seriousness of the issues become a bit clear. Reality on the ground is that not only corruption is destroying our so-called national institutions and costing us billions but it has buried a common man straight under.
From cartelization to paying forceful unnecessary taxes, there is no justification of calling the present situation even near satisfactory. High inflation and energy crises are a result of government sponsored cartelization and corrupt privatization without merit. If things are done in transparent way and Rule of Law is established then we can expect some improvement in turbulent economy, if it has not crashed yet.We are already moving around 4 percent GDP growth which is very low as compared to countries like India and China in the same region.
If a common man saves enough money through his hard work, even in this time of government sponsored inflation, and decides to build his house then a new series of hurdles and problems start for him. First one is to go through the government doors for transferring the plots, passing the site plan and other unnecessary approvals which not only cost huge amount of fees but a big amount is taken from his through forceful corruption otherwise his file disappears somewhere in hell.
Once he goes through the process then the process of construction comes, if high prices of construction material due to unjustified sales taxes is not enough then extortion money will surely take a lot juice out of him. All the major government parties and their allied mafias are involved in this game. In case of Karachi, areas are distributed and in each area people are bound to pay this money if they want to make their houses or they want to do business. If someone denies then Shersha Kabari Market incident is not that old to remind us what can happen.
Recent target killing also has some touch of this mafia war for taking more and more area under control. Many times where demarkation of areas is not clear people have to pay extortion to multiple parties. The situation has gone worse after floods, especially in Karachi, not only due to chanting demographics but also due to further slowdown in economy and high inflation.
Cost of doing and initiating business is also a major problem. Not only permits, licensing and quotas are a major problem but red-tapism, corruption, security issues and high electricity are things which in any country can break the backbone of business. Load shedding of 12 hours in a commercial hub like Karachi cannot send a positive message for any investor whether local or international.
The situation is not only resulting in the flight of capital but it has created unemployment issues as well which directly impacts the standard of living. We often demand overseas Pakistanis to bring their money in the country but if we honestly analyse the situation then the demand looks a bit unjust.
At the moment our country is facing worst kind of shameless plutocracy in the name of democracy with mafias and government cronies hammering the life out of our people.
The responsibility also lies on the shoulders of people as they are the ones who chant slogans for these leaders and support either corrupt politicians or dictators.
The real issue is not just that how long this situation can go on but the real issue how long our country can sustain it. We need to come out of this situation otherwise time doesn’t wait for anyone and if worse becomes worst and worst becomes unchangeable then collapse of everything becomes inevitable. So the choice is ours and we are already getting late for the right choices to be made. Instead of cursing institutions for bringing out reports reflecting our dismal performance we need to focus on improving the situation and coming out of this mess.
- Also on : http://blogs.aaj.tv/2010/11/shameless-plutocracy-and-turbulent-economy/
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The case of newly discovered 11 missing persons, presently being heard by the Supreme Court, is yet another reminder of how callously intelligence agencies of the country operate without showing any respect to rule of law.
The saga of missing persons seems to be getting more and more complicated with every passing day as the governments, whether federal or provincial, political parties and parliament are simply incapable or indifferent to providing the needed support to the Supreme Court to keep intelligence agencies under check and to make them behave as per the law of the land.
Illyas Siddiqui, the attorney of these 11 persons, insists that the Lahore High Court had ordered the release of these 11 persons on July 21, and on July 28, the orders of the court were received by the Adiyala Jail’s superintendent but instead of releasing them, the jail authorities handed them over to intelligence agencies on July 29, from the main gate of the jail. He also referred to a video evidence to prove his point.
Siddiqui did not precisely name as to which intelligence agency had abducted these persons, all of whom were acquitted in terrorism cases, including rocket attack on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, anti-aircraft shots fired at a plane carrying former President Pervez Musharraf and suicide attacks on the bus of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and at the main entrance of the GHQ.
A deputy attorney general told the apex court that none of the three leading intelligence agencies — ISI, MI and IB — have in their custody any of these missing persons. The Punjab government authorities also don’t admit that the acquitted persons were handed over to any of the intelligence agencies but say that all the persons were released as per the high court’s order.
The then Home Secretary, Nadeem Hasan Asif, said that after their acquittal by the court in terrorism cases, the Punjab government, on the recommendation of CID, kept them under detention, initially under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and later by invoking the Anti-Terrorism Act.
But when the LHC set aside these detention orders, Nadeem told The News, the jail authorities were asked to release all the acquitted persons. When asked, Nadeem said that none of the intelligence agencies, including ISI, MI and IB, had approached him either to keep these persons under detention or hand them over to the spy agencies.
On the files of the provincial government, all these detainees were released from the Adiyala Jail. However, when they were to be released, quite a reasonable number of their relatives were waiting outside the Adiyala Jail to receive their acquitted relatives. The superintendent and the deputy superintendent of Adiyala Jail have already been arrested from the Supreme Court following the court’s order.
No matter what the government files read, some of the provincial government authorities do believe that these 11 persons would have been in the illegal custody of the intelligence agencies.
Six out of these 11 persons are those who were acquitted in a case of attack on the ISI bus near Hamza Camp on the morning of November 24, 2007, killing 17 persons and injuring 35 others. According to media reports, the Punjab Police had held the intelligence agencies responsible for their acquittal on grounds of non-cooperation and mishandling of the case.
The report said that these six people were first picked up by intelligence agencies and were latter handed over to the Punjab Police after almost nine months of detention with not a single evidence provided to police and the spy agencies even refused to share any information gathered from the illegal detainees. These reports were carried by the national press in June this year and neither the Punjab Police nor the ISPR or any intelligence agency had rebutted the news.
$260 billion gold mines going for a song, behind closed doors–>Special Report By Shaheen Sehbai, The News
Special Report By Shaheen Sehbai
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Quietly, and below the media radar, some 20 top corporate bosses and lobbyists of two of the world’s largest gold mining groups have been meeting President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Governor State Bank and others in Islamabad throughout last week, pressing them to quickly hand over one of the world’s biggest gold and copper treasures found in Balochistan at Reko Diq, worth over $260 billion, to their companies, and for peanuts.
Before these highly enticing visits of the mining tycoons to clinch the deals, which followed intense behind-the-scene negotiations and bargaining through middle men, some highly bizarre developments have been taking place, leaving experts and the rest of the mining world stunned, amazed and confused.
These companies want that the mining licences should be issued by Pakistan immediately after their exploration licences expire soon. But there are legal hitches and pressure is now being put through the backdoor to get the target.
In recent years, so many games have been played to keep Pakistan’s share in the enormous treasure to a bare minimum, thanks to some greedy politicians and bureaucrats who sold their country’s natural wealth.
A deep study of numerous documents, statements of major players, stakeholders and competitors, interviews with key Pakistani officials, including Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani, the picture that emerges is so murky and mind boggling that any ordinary soul just cannot fathom what is going on. Only a thorough and detailed judicial probe can untangle this mystery.
There is a plethora of documents, which prove that almost everybody involved is trying to deceive everybody else, the real picture is never presented, misleading statements and even contradictory claims have been made in the media, the issue has been kept confused as the real mega deal is maturing fast behind closed doors.
“Because there is no effective investigating agency like NAB operating in the country, it is just the right case for the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to pick up the issue, put a hold on whatever is going on before any binding contracts and deals are signed, which may cause losses of billions of dollars, yes billions of dollars to Pakistan,” according to a corporate executive involved in the mining industry, based in New York. His company chairman is a reputed former three-term Congressman.
“The Reko Diq scandal is equal to 260 steel mills valued at one billion dollar each or 570 steel mills at $350 million each, the price at which PSM was being sold by PM Shaukat Aziz before it was stopped by the Supreme Court,” shows a calculation.
And according to one Washington mining industry expert, if Pakistan gets its fair share from the gold and copper mines, Balochistan and Pakistan would become richer than any of the present oil producing Gulf countries, many times over. “They have the goods, they need the will,” he said.
The massive mine deposits at Reko Diq in Chagai Balochistan are part of the same geological belt discovered in Afghanistan, which the Pentagon recently claimed was worth one trillion dollars, though President Hamid Karzai claimed it was worth more than 3 trillion dollars.
According to a report in the New York Times on June 13, 2010 by James Risen: “The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the Saudi Arabia of lithium, a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Black Berrys.”
Pakistan, it is estimated in mining circles, has more deposits than Afghanistan, so the enormity of the riches and the cost of the backdoor deals can easily be guessed. “It would be the mother of all the deals and grandfather of all the corruption cases in Pakistan, put together,” according to one expert.
Reading the piles of documents, statements, interviews and legal papers available with The News, the picture that emerges is one of a grand deception, loot and plunder that never happened before on such a scale and the facts, untruths, half-truths, attempts to sabotage, frauds and backdoor bribes, are all documented.
It all started in the Musharraf era but once the massive scale of the stakes involved became apparent to the PPP government, the Raisani/Zardari camp quickly jumped into the fray to renegotiate the deal, behind closed doors.
An Australian mineral exploration firm originally started the exploration and invested some $30 million but in 2006 sold the company to a Canadian and Chilean joint venture for $230 million. The old company was an Australian public company Tethyan Copper Prosperity Limited and the new company was named Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) of Pakistan. A trick game is being played in these cosmetic changes. The Canadians and Chileans, according to publicly declared information to their shareholders and regulators, took 37.5 per cent share each, while Pakistan only had the remaining 25 per cent.
Seeing the vast potential, the TCC soon raised its investment to half a billion dollars. The Pakistani shares belong to the Government of Balochistan and the federal government has no share. Due monies have not been paid to Pakistan or Balochistan treasuries.
Two licences (EL-6 and EL-8) for exploration were also given on a 100 per cent ownership basis to these foreign firms, with Pakistan (or Balochistan) having no share at all.
All this was done during the Musharraf regime and bureaucrats played havoc with Pakistani interests. They were trying to emulate President Hamid Karzai’s mining minister, who was caught with $30 million in his Dubai bank and later removed. According to a Washington Post report on Nov 18, 2009: “The Afghan minister of mines accepted a roughly $30 million bribe to award the country’s largest development project to a Chinese mining firm.”
Quoting a US official, the Washington Post said: “The alleged payment to Mohammad Ibrahim Adel was made in Dubai within a month of December 2007, when a big Chinese metallurgical group received the contract for a $2.9 billion project to extract copper from the Aynak deposit in Logar province. Aynak is considered one of the largest unexploited copper deposits in the world.”
The Pakistanis were never told the exact size of the gold and copper deposits that were found by these foreigners. Even until July this year, when a top level delegation of the Canadian company led by Aaron Regent met Prime Minister Gilani in Islamabad, the PM was told that development of this mega project shall generate a revenue of only about $3.5 billion for Government of Pakistan and $4.5 billion for Government of Balochistan over 40 years.
But the Canadian company has to report the real value to its own Canadian government agencies every year and on December 31, 2008 it informed these agencies, and its shareholders, that its 37.5 per cent share in Reko Diq would yield 17 million ounces of gold and 20 billion pounds of copper in measured, indicated and inferred resources. And these deposits have to be mined in 25 years, not as PM of Pakistan was told in 40 years.
At current prices of these two minerals, the total asset of the Canadian, Chilean and Pakistan government would be over $260 billion and according to former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, as the prices of gold and copper go up, the total yield could be even $500 billion or may be a trillion.
In 2008 the PPP leaders entered the equation and on Dec 25, 2009 the Government of Balochistan announced the cancellation of the Reko Diq agreement. The decision was taken unanimously by the provincial cabinet, which also means the entire Balochistan Assembly. The cabinet also decided not to extend exploration licence of Reko Diq to the Canadian company and not to issue any mining licence for further work. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani said on the occasion: “Cancellation of the Reko Diq copper and gold project agreement is a step towards getting control over provincial resources in accordance with the wishes of the people.”
The key statement he made was that he had held consultations with the coalition partners (read PPP and President Zardari) on the matter.
Before Raisani’s decisions in 2008 and 2009, the former chief minister during the Musharraf regime, Jam Yusuf had visited Canada and Chile in early 2007, why no one knows as it can only be guessed what a CM could do in the corporate HQ of a company.
Early this year, Raisani handed over affairs of the project to the Department of Mines and Mineral Development of Balochistan and acquired the services of eminent nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who was made head of its Board of Governors.
After the July 2010 visit of the Canadian company head to Islamabad, Chief Minister Raisani and Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources started pressurising the federal and provincial government officials to make an early decision about Reko Diq. Lots of officials were transferred from their posts. In October, in an unprecedented letter, the CM asked President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to convene a high-level meeting to take the final decision. It seems double games were already underway.
But in Dubai, before the Canadians visited Islamabad to see President Zardari, the CEO of the company announced on October 25, 2010 that Reko Diq project would go ahead as planned despite plans by the provincial government to cancel it. “The project is going ahead and will not be cancelled, we are now in talks with the government and we expect production to start by the end of 2015,” Gerhard Von Borries, Chief Executive of TCC, said on the sidelines of an industry event in Dubai.
One month before the October visit to Islamabad, the company submitted a 100,000 pages feasibility study and gave the cost as $3.3 billion. Experts say this $3.3 billion will be the construction cost to build the mining infrastructure to extract the gold and copper. It took three years to write this report and the Samar Mubarakmand Board was expected to study and give its finding, quickly, may be in just a few days.
But before the Board of Governors headed by Dr Samar could open the report, a new committee was formed on October 1, 2010, excluding most of the board members and perhaps the new committee would now decide everything, in undue haste shortly.
The Canadian company, Barrick Gold, with 29 mines all over the world, is already being accused on the web of some strange activities. These include spills of cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals, police and legalistic repression of critics, threats to water resources on four continents and even food poisoning, as well as rape.
In 2008, under oath in the Balochistan High Court, Barrick Gold stated it had nothing to do with building an airport in the heart of Balochistan for its mining operations. It turned out the airport was actually built but on someone else’s property, a neighbouring exploration company from the US.
However, in its quarterly filings of March 2007, Barrick reported to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington DC that they had spent $30 million to build the airport in Pakistan and other activities. It was the same strip built on the neighbour’s property. The company made a false statement, to either the Balochistan High Court or the SEC. It was potential perjury any way. The US company, Benway Corporation, which is also exploring in the same area, has gone to Balochistan High Court against the intrusion on its land besides reporting the case to the SEC, which is looking whether violations of the US laws on corrupt practices have been violated.
While these confusing details may not make any sense for an ordinary reader, some 1,050 documents filed in the Balochistan High Court show that the TCC has been given unlawfully 508 sq km land on 30-year leases, a fact which CM Raisani has no clue about.
On Oct 28, when TCC executives were meeting the top PPP bosses in Islamabad, Chief Minister Balochistan was also around and he told Ahmad Noorani of The News: “This is impossible. As so far issues have not been finalised, so in no way TCC could be leased such a big land and that too for 30 years”.
He was asked: “Do you know that Reko Diq Exploration Licence No 5 gives TCC 240,000 acres of land and it expires in 2011. That TCC has had this licence from the Department of Mineral and Mining Development and on December 24 2009 you declared by a unanimous cabinet decision not to renew EL 5. But actually TCC had carefully bought and leased all that land from Board of Revenue of Balochistan in 2008 for 10 million dollars for 30 years. Your December 24 decision really had no teeth. TCC owns the land for 30 years. What has changed since December 24, 2009 that you are ready to sign a new agreement within a week or by November 24, 2010?”
The chief minister, who had no idea that a 30-year lease had been granted, responded: “It is not possible that such a big chunk of land is leased to TCC for a period of 30 years.” He asked his personal secretary to recheck and confirm the exact situation of the land lease to the TCC.
He was then asked about the cheques of millions of rupees he had received from the Canadian company. “How many total cheques you received from TCC or their related companies since you were sworn in as the CM. Why he thought they were giving him checks when their case was in the process of a major decision.”
Raisani admitted that a total of two cheques were given to him for Rs 10 million and Rs 8.5 million. “Both cheques were for the chief minister’s relief fund and were deposited in the Government of Balochistan account,” he maintained.
A spokesman of the TCC in Islamabad told The News that a cheque of Rs 8.5 million was given to Chief Minister Balochistan on Aug 25, 2010 for CM’s flood relief fund only and this cheque was for chief minister. But Press Secretary to the Chief Minister, Kamran, claimed that the cheque of Rs8.5 million was given by the TCC in the name of the Government of Balochistan and was deposited in the CM’s account for flood relief. He said this cheque had nothing to do with the files of the TCC in CM’s office.
CM Raisani told The News after the Dec 24, 2009 decision that the TCC had submitted a fresh feasibility study, which was being analysed and so far no final decision had been taken. Despite the statement of his press secretary, the CM asserted that no date could be given when the decision to award this project would be taken.
Asked about the licences, which were totally foreign owned without any share of Pakistan, the CM answered that for exploration licences there was no question of any share of Government of Balochistan. “For exploration, Balochistan will have to pay the TCC,” he argued.
In answer to the most pertinent question asked about the size of the deposits and what Pakistan would get out of the deal, CM Raisani was evasive.
He was asked: “Do you know that the value of Reko Diq is $260 billion as per records of the Canadian company (at today’s gold/copper international market rates), the government and former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said its value was $500 billion but in July the President of Barrick Gold came to PM Gilani and said the value was only $50 billion. Why is the government in such a hurry to decide this matter in favour of TCC on the fast track?”
In a surprising statement, Raisani just said the total cost was Rs 8.9 billion, not dollars. He ignored the rest of the question. Asked whether any international consultant was being hired to study the 100,000 pages feasibility studies as this was the first project of its kind in Pakistan, the CM said: “No, we don’t. We don’t need any. We have so many experts in different fields.”
“Is it correct that CM Balochistan is being pressurised by President Zardari to sign a deal with TCC,” he was asked.
His response: “I met President Zardari on this issue on Wednesday (last week).” Asked what the president told him to do, he said it was between President Zardari and him and he would not disclose what Zardari asked him on awarding of the project to the TCC.
But then, as an after thought, he added: “The federal government is not pressurising me on this issue. We are dealing with this ourselves.”
The bottomline is that Pakistan now has to issue mining licences to extract gold and cooper, which is worth billions of dollars and the current mood in Islamabad is to give the foreign companies a huge share. In fact, Pakistan should retain 70 to 80 per cent of these treasures.
In many countries, where agreements had already been signed giving a much bigger share to foreigners, these agreements were revised in the interest of the host country. Ireland, South Africa, Venezuela renegotiated their mining and oil exploration contracts to their benefit.
Anyone interested in making a few million dollars, like the Afghan minister of the Karzai government, which could cost the country billions, must not be allowed to do so. This is the role the Supreme Court, parliament and the media have to play at this crucial time.
Note: The Islamabad portion of this Special Report including CM Raisani’s interview was filed by Ahmad Noorani.
Comments : Thanks to the journalist for this great service to the nation. This is another joint venture of Mush/Zardari governments like NRO. This plunder started in Mushi time and still on in Zardari time and going for final phase. Even the parties involved in Rental Power Projects also invested on both Mushi and Zardari gangs.