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Supreme Court says neutral in Reko Diq lease matter
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Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012
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Business Recorder reported that the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of Reko Diq case and directed the petitioners' lawyer to conclude his arguments on Wednesday. The Supreme Court on Monday observed that it was neutral in the matter relating to lease of gold and copper mines in Reko Diq in Chagi district, Balochistan but wanted to be satisfied over the legality of the project agreement with foreign companies.

A three judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing identical petitions filed against the federal government's decision to lease out gold and copper mines in Reko Diq to foreign companies.

During the course of proceedings, Mr Raza Kazim the counsel for petitioner Maulana Abdul Haq Baloch, told the bench that the then Governor Balochistan, Amir ul Mulk Mengal, authorised the Balochistan Development Authority to sign the Reko Diq agreement with foreign companies. Raza Kazim repeatedly prayed the bench to issue a stay order.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry questioned the competency of the Governor Balochistan to sign an agreement with foreign companies while Kazim challenged the competency of BDA to sign an agreement with foreign companies. According to Mr Khalid Anwar the counsel for Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan told the Reko Diq mines contain 2 billion tonnes of copper and gold with an estimated total value of USD 54 to USD 56 billion. Pakistan government's share from this total amount is USD 13 billion, Balochistan government's share would be 52% of the total and TCCA will receive USD 12 billion.

Opposing Kazim's plea for a stay order, Mr Anwar argued before the court that it would harm Pakistan's credibility around the world. He maintained that there were no grounds for a stay order in the instant matter. Anwar further contended that it was essential to honour contracts with foreign companies in the national interest. He referred to court verdicts on Karkey (Turkey) and Walter Company (USA) as examples where Pakistan's image was harmed.

However, the Chief Justice observed that the bench was hearing the Reko Diq matter to get orientation that it was leased out in accordance with the subjected formalities. Balochistan government's lawyer Mr Ahmer Bilal Soofi submitted that he was unable to make any formulation in the case because the matter was pending before International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Tribunal. Subsequently, the bench adjourned the hearing of case till November 20th 2012.

Source - Business Recorder

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