USAID fame Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and Iranian poodles MWM joining hands against talks with Talibans. It gives some idea how things are going in the region especially Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria was just a trap set for rising Turkey and another way to exploit sectarianism in the region.
If Shias realize how harmful these Khomenists are for their interest then it can bring some chance of peace for them and others. If these corrupt Sunni Ittehad council guys start not to use sectarianism to gain monetarily or politically then they can do some good for others too.
Both are playing as puppets of USA/Iran and their slaves in army/agencies/politics to push Pakistan into more and more war mess.
Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are no saints and have committed too many transgressions against non-combatant populations but they are the result of this mess. This phenomenon of terrorism cannot be dealt properly if we do not address the root cause of this mess. Root causes are Pakistan army’s role of a mercenary organization for their client USA against Afghanistan and Pakistani tribes, Pakistan’s soil being used for NATO supplies to strengthen the occupation, Pakistani bases being used to occupy a neighboring country (also for drones) and finally one of the main root cause is the support to these wars and wrong actions provided by sectarian and social class fascists sitting in army, politics, media and civil society.
People need to learn that senseless bombings and operations have created most of these militants in the first place and continuing with this bullshit will only create more terrorism. But how can someone convince those who are blinded by sectarianism or dollars?
Do the designers of this war have any favorite sects or social classes?
The designers of this wars sitting in Washington surely make it look like a war between sufi vs non sufi or shia/barelvi vs deobandi/ahl e hadith/wahabi sects or between liberals and conservatives or moderates and extremists or between other social class groupsbut in actual they don’t share even a little bit of sympathy for anyone.
All they know is to exploit fault lines which they are doing. i agree that IK seems to be the only major leader who has some sort of idea what is going on with this war or in the region.
The unfortunate part is that their dollar slaves in Pakistan are also toeing their line despite seeing all the destruction. Another dangerous element of this war is Khomenist’s direct and indirect support which is also not helping the cause. They think they can go on for long with their sectarian imperialism but in actual they are destroying the future of not only Sunnis or others they don’t like but most importantly they are harming the interests of people they claim to represent i.e Shias in the region.
Its time to start acting like thinking humans not some sheep or insects. We need to come out of this self-destructive mode.
Aafia Siddiqui Issue–>Shameful attempt by some anchors to give it another twist using the same old nationality rant
Recently some anchors, including reputed anchor like Kamran Khan (Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Sath host) and not so reputed anchor Sana Bucha (Lekin host), have tried to show that Aafia Siddiqui is an American national or she is a dual national. Aafia’s family has repeatedly denied these allegations. It was also interesting to see that how an international lawyer like Ahmer Bilal Sufi (also affiliated with PILDAT) didn’t discuss the real aspect of the case i.e. her abduction and reasons behind her abduction.
My views on this issue are that dual national or not, the reality is that she was illegally abducted from Pakistani soil and she was a daughter of a Pakistani family. This is a ridiculous argument again trying to cash in false nationalism over single nationality or dual nationality which is not proved and most importantly was never contested in USA court in fake Afia trial. They also didn’t discuss the main accusation on the media on her i.e. her links with Al-Qaida as they didn’t have enough grounds for that. Shame on these social class fascists.
How can you allow someone to be abducted without due process if that person (national or not) has entered legally in Pakistan? The case on her was prosecuted for a stupid charge that she snatched gun from USA marines and then in the process got shot herself. No finger prints were there on the gun as was admitted by US official who gave the testimony in the case.
Apparently the momentum is being created to make a ground for the release of Dr. Shakeel afridi.
It is really shameful how things are being presented in the media. Either it is an act or irresponsibility and lack of prudence or lack of honesty, in both cases media organizations should see the professionalism standard of their anchors and opinion makers. Civil society should raise the issue on any forum.
Few days ago I shared a news from UN website regarding forced conversion. Here is the other side of the story. Case is in Sind High Court, hopefully there will be a fair decision
by Sarfaraz Memon (Express Tribune)
SUKKUR: Faryal Shah (Rinkle Kumari) appeared before the media on Thursday and made it clear that she had not been kidnapped and had not been forced to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
Faryal said that she had converted to Islam and had married Naveed Shah of her own free will, and that nobody had pressurised her into this. Reading out the Kalma-e-Tayyaba, Faryal said she was a Muslim girl and therefore had nothing to do with her parents.
Faryal (Rinkle Kumari) and her husband Naveed Shah were produced in front of the Sindh High Court (SHC) Sukker bench on Thursday morning amid tight security.
The couple was escorted by SSP Ghotki Pir Mohammad Shah along with a heavy contingent of police. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Mian Abdul Haq of Bharchoondi Sharif, his son Mian Mohammad Aslam and a large number of their followers were also present.
The couple through their lawyer, Achar Gabole, had filed a constitutional petition stating that their lives were under threat from the relatives of the girl, who had been issuing threats of dire consequences.
Answering a question on threats to their lives, she said, “Our lives are under threat from my maternal uncle Raj Kumar”. She once again made it clear that she was a Muslim and wanted to live with her husband Naveed Shah.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund, who was representing Faryal’s grandfather Manohar Lal, told The Express Tribune that the single bench comprising of Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh without recording the statement of the girl had ordered SSP Ghotki to provide protection to the couple and ensure that they are produced before the SHC chief justice in Karachi on March 12.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund kept on insisting that, the girl was under pressure due to the presence of a large number of Bharchoondi Sharif followers. He said everything will become “crystal clear” in Karachi, as the girl would be able to record her statement in a tension free atmosphere.
Mian Mohammad Aslam of Bharchoondi Sharif said that everyone had seen that Faryal was neither under pressure and had not said a word against the Pirs. “Rather she gave a statement against her own maternal uncle who is threatening to kill her.”
He said his father, PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq had also come to the court because the girl’s parents had requested that they wanted to meet their daughter, but they didn’t come to see her.
Aslam said when the couple had come to Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif on February 24, Faryal had spoken to her parents on his instructions and had told them that she had come there to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
“I personally requested them to come over and meet their daughter to see for themselves that she was not under pressure, but they didn’t’ come,” Mian Aslam said.
He once again said that neither Islam nor the law of the land allowed forced conversion.
Below is an article by a Syrian journalist who has put light on the lives people of Syria are living in fear. Bashar al Asad like his father is a tyrant and he seems to be the modern version of Nazi leadership. People should raise their voices all over the world and support the freedom and justice loving people in any manner they can.
Confessions of an ‘agent’ in Syria–>DAWN News Article
by Maryam Hasan (Pen name)
Whether it’s a call on my phone or at the door, I feel scared to death. I mentally prepare myself for the worst, assuming that “they” are here to take me.
But then, when I find a friend at the door or a homeless compatriot asking for food, I realise that it is not my day yet, it is someone else’s.
Despite being unusually lucky, my nightmares don’t end. I rather prepare myself to deal with a situation when Bashar’s sleuths would come to pick me up for writing about the misery of Syrian taxpayers and democracy-lovers.
Regardless of our terrible conditions, we do greet each other daily with ‘sabah al-khair’ or good morning but with little hope for the same.
When I hear stories of torture and disfigured bodies of the missing Syrians and journalists alike, my only prayer to Allah remains, “I am ready for it but ease it on me and my people please.”
We write with pen names and log on the Internet using proxies, thinking we are safe. The reality is otherwise. My missing journalist friends and bloggers had no time to say bye to their loved ones inside the very home they were abducted from. Al-mokhabarat or intelligence agents, just plucked them away, mostly in the dark of the night.
They may discover me sooner or later but I make it a point to erase all my cell phone logs of call and text messages, clear my browser history and empty my laptop’s trash bin. Thinking that I might have forgotten something, sometimes I repeat the act many times a night.
Of late, my personal fear of being kidnapped by government sleuths has been overshadowed by a big, bloodier development. Every day, I see uploaded YouTube videos of the best of Soviet and Russian arsenal knocking down bustling neighborhoods first in Dara’a, then Hama and now Homs.
While I still fear the footsteps of sleuths on my door, I am not being searched as minutely as before.
Instead of looking out for activists and undercover journalists, Bashar’s military is wiping out entire cities from world maps, over suspicions of treason against the Alawite regime.
What started as massacre has duly transformed into genocide. My editors abroad insist on sending my stories with real names, concrete evidence and versions from both sides. I have been in double jeopardy since the first eight months of the uprising when the world only knew about Tahrir square kind of protests.
I, sometimes, wonder if the top-notch media watchdog bodies really know what a faceless and nameless journalist in Syria goes through, at the hands of sleuths as well as the very editors known as gatekeepers.
When making a phone call can risk not only yours and your families’ lives but also the person answering the phone, calling a government source is simply suicidal. Even the most naïve journalist here knows that cellular and landline phone companies are not only owned by the regime’s front-men but also bugged and monitored.
Simultaneously, Syria is a busy place for journalists where one cannot choose which story angle to focus on any given day i.e. massacres in Homs, protests in Damascus and Idlib, Russian FM’s visit to Bashar, or statements from Washington echoing only fake promises.
But in the end the choice won’t be mine! The media company decides which one suits its agenda and its geopolitical context. Mostly, the easy bet is to bank on the wire service, ignoring the at-risk on-ground journalist who for them is a mere ‘stringer’!
I felt proud of my profession when I first saw stories by foreign journalists covering Syria from their high risk abodes and makeshift media centers. Though the world would not have believed a Syrian journalist like me for the Bab Amar massacre or siege of Homs but I hope they won’t ignore the outsiders’ testimony.
The natural but tragic death of Anthony Shadid, a Lebanon-born journalist for The New York Times, weighed very heavy on Syrian people’s hearts and the battered country’s image. Syria was referred to as home of death.
Besides dozens if not hundreds of slain Syrian journalists, the uprising has claimed two French media-men, and the one and only Marie Colvin died in more familiar way. Their heartrending deaths came in solidarity with local fellow professionals whose names and faces may be known when the tyrant falls and conscience rules in Syria.
Unluckily, I have many pen names for it is hard to write with a real one. Death of Marie Colvin was personally embarrassing to me. Should I still use pen names when my star colleagues are writing with their warm blood?
I am a single woman with no liabilities except a widowed mother and siblings. One simple story with my real name appearing on an Arabic language blog or English-language website has greater probability of leading sleuths to my home.
Now even my family rarely knows which pen name I use and where in the world, my work publishes. Not that I don’t trust my family but the regime’s four decades of fear can easily cause a Freudian slip.
A year ago, I proudly showed off my byline in international dailies but now we are writing for our lives and not for pride.
I rarely get internet access good enough to open my emails and send my stories in time. I must admit that overall depressing conditions too result in my missing deadlines. Ironically, stories featuring Syrians’ bloodbath are never stale and the desk accepts them more often.
When I work on my laptop, my siblings and mother spy on me to see what I am doing or writing. My eldest sister advised me last September, “I can’t stop a journalist from writing but she should not forget the fate her younger brothers may face if they (mokhabarat) find out.”
One of my university fellows was picked up for writing a blog about a missing seven-year-old in Dara’a. Her brother went to a police station to lodge a report but never returned home. Three weeks later, their mother was asked to receive her son’s body from the same police office. She not only got the body of her 20-year-old son but also discovered the disfigured corpse of her blogger daughter.
Earlier, I hoped to change the world’s opinion with my writings but now, I am only recording testimonies of massacres and detailing current history.
Long after they have taken me to die in their dark cells, my stories will serve as credible evidence to try Bashar and his advisors for crimes against humanity.
Like journalism, we are learning survival techniques on our own, the hard way. Whenever a couple of us sit together away from our parents and the listening walls, we talk about the best ways in dealing with the worst.
I usually tell my colleagues, “Why do you think they would wait for us to admit or defend ourselves. Our charge-sheets are already there with no room for defense or discussion . . . Agents we are! . . . Agents of change!”
Maryam Hasan is a young journalist, whose family struggled against Hafiz Al-Assad’s tyrannical rule and policies. She is using a pen-name due to security reasons.
This seems really pathetic. there is no room for these type of actions neither in constitution nor in Islam. forceful conversion is not allowed and directly against Quran. I think human rights organizations especially some of rich or political class hindu community member can raise the issue in high court or supreme court or even in Sharia Court as it is a direct violation of Islamic law as well. Only conversion allowed is voluntary conversion by heart. Also I believe Islamic organizations can help in this as it is a direct insult and misuse of Islam.
“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.
Ameena, or Radha as she still calls herself, was abducted from Karachi about 13 months ago by a group of young men who offered her ice-cream and a ride in their car. Before she knew what was happening, she was dragged into a larger van, and driven to an area she did not know.
She was then pressured into signing forms which she later found meant she was married to Ahmed Salim, 25; she was converted to a Muslim after being asked to recite some verses in front of a cleric. She was obliged to wear a veil. Seven months ago, Ameena, who has not seen her parents or three siblings since then and “misses them a lot”, moved with her new family to southern Punjab.
“The abduction and kidnapping of Hindu girls is becoming more and more common,” Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and leader of Karachi’s Hindu community, told IRIN. “This trend has been growing over the past four or five years, and it is getting worse day by day.”
He said there were at least 15-20 forced abductions and conversions of young girls from Karachi each month, mainly from the multi-ethnic Lyari area. The fact that more and more people were moving to Karachi from the interior of Sindh Province added to the dangers, as there were now more Hindus in Karachi, he said.
“They come to search for better schooling, for work and to escape growing extremism,” said Motumal who believes Muslim religious schools are involved in the conversion business.
“Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted,” said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, “because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a `real’ Muslim girl as my second wife,” he said.
According to local law, a Muslim man can take more than one wife, but rights activists argue that the law infringes the rights of women and needs to be altered.
Motumal says Hindu organizations are concerned only with the “forced conversion” of girls under 18. “Adult women are of course free to choose,” he said.
Sunil Sushmt, 40, who lives in a village close to the city of Mirpurkhas in central Sindh Province, said his 14-year-old daughter was “lured away” by an older neighbour and, her parents believe, forcibly converted after marriage to a Muslim. “She was a child. What choice did she have?” her father asked. He said her mother still cries for her “almost daily” a year after the event.
According to official figures, Hindus based mainly in Sindh make up 2 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 165 million. “We believe this figure could be higher,” Motumal said.
“My family has lived in Sindh for generations,” Parvati Devi, 70, told IRIN. “But now I worry for the future of my granddaughters and their children. Maybe we too should leave,” she said. “The entire family is seriously considering this.”
*not her real name
First that feudal bitch insulted the APO and now she has forced her to defend her. We need the toppling of this feudal/military/corporatist hold on our country to move ahead with prosperity and dignity.
We need to get rid of these feudal scum bags and their strangle hold on our country. These feudals along with military junta have damaged our country and they are holding our freedom as their captive. We need to take all back from them and kick them out of the corridors of powers. If we don’t do it then our future generations will be right to curse us for our lack of interest in defending our future.
Also I would like to ask those so called liberal NGOs who advocate women rights only when it suits their agenda to come forward and take the lead on the issue.
I would also like to appeal Election Commission of Pakistan and Supreme Court of Pakistan to cancel the registration of Waheeda Shah.
Slapped APO defends Waheeda Shah at press conference
TANDO MUHAMMAD KHAN: Waheeda Shah, the Pakistan People’s Party’s candidate who slapped an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) in a polling station Saturday, held a press conference and got the humiliated officer to speak in her favor, Geo News reported.
Waheeda Shah had the APO accompany her to the press conference held today and got the latter to give a statement in the former’s support.
However, the people from Waheeda Shah’s own constituency said the woman in Burqa was not the one who was slapped and humiliated yesterday.
Nothing could be said with certainty whether the woman at press conference was the same woman who was subjected to the ill treatment on Saturday. Even if it is believed the woman was the same, her defending the wrongdoer may lay bare the helplessness of the officer but it cannot give Waheeda Shah a clean chit.
It clearly appears to be a case of the powerful Waheeda Shah, a big landlord of the area, getting the poor teacher named Shagufta to give a statement against the herself (Shagufta) and in the former’s defence.
Perhaps Shagufta would have thought that if Waheeda Shah could beat her in front of cameras what worse she must be capable of doing in their absence.
$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.
By Shakeel Anjum
ISLAMABAD: Unknown attackers who last month abducted, tortured and humiliated Umar Cheema, a senior investigative journalist of The News, have again started chasing him and the latest harassment of this kind occurred on Friday night.
Cheema was heading home with his family at around 10 pm when some suspects, again in a black Land Cruiser, started chasing his vehicle and did so for as long as nine kilometres on the Islamabad Highway. They started following his car from near Faizabad and remained in pursuit until he took a U-turn from the highway towards the PWD Housing Society. As he got off the main highway, the suspects stopped the Land Cruiser and started staring at the vehicle till it remained in sight. Incidentally, it was also a Friday night when Cheema was abducted in the wee hours of September 4, 2010. Likewise, a black Land Cruiser was used for his abduction and for chasing him again.
Cheema said this is not for the first time that he has been followed, adding the Friday night’s incident panicked his family members traveling with him. He said he has written a will and handed it over to his family, advising them as to who should be held accountable in case some tragedy hits him.
Umar Cheema was last picked up in a cloak and dagger style on his way home on September 4. He was stripped naked, tortured with a long piece of leather like whip and a wooden rod. His attackers had accused him of writing against the government.
The information he gathered later on indicated that the operation was presumably done by the thugs of an intelligence agency. Cheema, who wrote critical pieces about the federal government, Army, and intelligence agencies, said that it was always the ISI people who would contact him directly or indirectly for giving him ‘brotherly advice.’
After this brutal incident, the attackers didn’t lose track of him. He noted their presence on a number of times outside his residence after this incident and was also chased in the latest incident on Friday night.
The government so far has failed to bring the culprits to justice. Even the adjournment motion on Cheema’s issue in the National Assembly that was moved by the PML-N lawmakers, though approved for discussion, was not taken up in the last session that was prorogued without discussion on this important issue. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who had promised completing the criminal investigation in a week, could not keep up his pledge as usual. A Joint Investigation Team that was formed later under pressure from journalist organisations failed to make any headway. The Lahore High Court had taken a suo moto notice of Cheema’s torture but police keeps buying time again and again without coming up with any solid clue. A judicial commission headed by a retired judge of high court is recording statements for a fact-finding report on this incident.
Besides Cheema and Ansar Abbasi who was also sent threatening messages, six journalists have recorded their statements narrating their harassment in the past by intelligence agencies. Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir, Kamran Shafi, a Dawn columnist, Sarmad Manzoor, chief coordinator of SAFMA, Shakeel Anjum, senior journalist of The News, Azaz Syed, investigative reporter of Dawn TV and Shakil Turabi, editor of SANA news agency, are among those who recorded statements before the judicial commission.
By Faisal Rahman
General (R) Pervez Musharraf, has launched his political party recently in London. Pakistan’s politics is amazing, a dictator who was all in all in his time and used to stop people from taking part in politics or coming back in the country is now forced to restart his politics from abroad.
Public opinion is divided in Pakistan over the comeback of Musharraf. It will surely not be an easy ride for him in politics. Arrival and stay in country will not be an easy task for the former dictator.
First and the biggest hurdle that will haunt him is 3rd November. It is something over which many sections of society, regardless of their social class and political affiliations, oppose him. 3rd November issue is not only related to the suspension of constitution and illegal sacking of the judiciary, but it also connects to several human rights violations to crush the lawyers movement, media and civil society.
Lal-Masjid operation, extra-judicial killings in Baluchistan, allowing US drone and missile attacks in Pakistan, NATO supplies and troops in tribal areas have put Pakistan into a real mess. The damage he did is so severe that even after two years we are facing the deadly impact. The violations of human rights in his tenure are probably worst in the history of Pakistan. Issues of missing people, particularly Dr. Aafia Siddiqi, will surely haunt him when he comes back.
The post 9/11 policies, which were mainly adapted to give legitimacy to Musharraf’s dictatorship in the eyes of world powers, have caused more than 40 billion dollars direct economic losses to Pakistan, according to government’s own sources. In Musharraf’s tenure, the real areas of economy such as agriculture , technology manufacturing and energy were not focused upon. As a result, we are undergoing food and worst energy crisis ever.
Some impression of stability was created through fictitious economy based on banking, real estate and telecom sector, which eventually resulted in the flight of capital and currency devaluation. This short sighted approach may have got him some political support, but for the country, the approach proved to be destructive in the long run. In fact, the economic bubble burst during the last days of his tenure.
Kashmir is another issue on which Musharraf needs to be questioned. According to APHC leaders, Musharraf damaged the Kashmir cause by sidelining the issue. The main leader from APHC, Syed Ali Shah Gillani, also accused Musharraf for the split of APHC. Keeping eyes close on India’s violations of Indus Water Treaty and letting India build dams was criminal negligence. His mishandling of Dr. AQ Khan’s issue and insulting the national hero will also not be forgiven by Pakistanis.
People including me often criticize the current setup, but we also need to see the cause of this mess i.e. NRO. We shouldn’t only see the ugly dry branches of the dead tree but also need to see who is responsible for the hot water going into roots.
Musharraf’s arrival is very important for Pakistan, as we need answers for many crimes he did against the nation. His arrival is important for strengthening rule of law as it will give chance to trial him for his unconstitutional actions. I am sure if people in NWFP and Baluchistan get a chance to file cases against him in the courts for his crimes against humanity, it will help in calming down the situation in many parts of our country. It will give a chance for Army to restore its image in the eyes of many, who have grievances against the national institution due to the policies by former dictators.
Musharraf’s arrival will also be a big test for our civil society, media and the Pakistani nation as a whole. It will give us a chance to set precedence of indiscriminate justice and rule of law. I hope we will take the right decisions without falling to our prejudices and greed.