Amid growing political furor, there is a silver lining regarding the future of Pakistan as the disputed Reko Diq mine project has got the green light. The development is being
perceived as in favour of Pakistan as the reaching of agreement between Barrick Gold Corp. and Pakistan is being termed as a win-win situation for both. Pakistan has been waived of penalties worth US $11 billion while Barrick Gold Corp. hopes to earn profits estimated at billions of dollars in the next few decades. Reportedly, Reko Diq is one of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world, capable of producing 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold a year for more than half a century. This is not the first time that Balochistan has offered an opportunity that can change the destiny of Pakistan.
From extraction of huge reserves of natural gas, CPEC Projects, Gwadar port development and now this Reqo Diq-all these are real game changers. However, deprivation of the province and its inhabitants has not ended yet owing to corruption, undermining of basic human rights, poor strategy to quell insurgency and power lust of chieftains of the province. In the context of deprivations of the Baloch people, unfortunately, they have been facing victimisation and the abuse of their basic rights for decades. There are a large number of reservations that have not been addressed yet.
Many areas in the mineral rich Balochistan are still deprived of basic utilities like gas, whose huge reservoirs exist in the province at Sui. Another grievance is the issue of missing persons that blemishes the image of the country at the national and international level. Reportedly, the courts are also helpless as the cases of missing persons continue to linger on for years without the provision of justice. The killing of the members of Shia Hazara community is another terrible phenomenon that needs immediate measures. In these circumstances, finding of huge mineral reserves can help ameliorate the suffering of Baloch people. In this regard, the first priority should be given to locals in the job concerns and funds should also be spent on development at the local level. Ignoring the locals was the grave mistake which should not repeat this time. Like all other citizens and federating units, the Baloch people must be given their rights according to the constitution. Royalties from minerals, gas, etc, should be spent on the uplift of Balochistan and its poor people. It may take time to clear the mess inherited from the past, but the first steps need to be taken now.