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PPP terms PM’s probe body in Reko Diq case an ‘eyewash’

Updated July 16, 2019

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Reko Diq, which means sandy peak in the Balochi language, is a small town in Chagai district in Balochis­tan. — Abdul Razique/File
Reko Diq, which means sandy peak in the Balochi language, is a small town in Chagai district in Balochis­tan. — Abdul Razique/File

ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has declared the formation of a commission by Prime Minister Imran Khan on the Reko Diq issue “mere eyewash”, saying that those responsible for the fiasco are at present holding key positions in the government.

Expressing concern over the last week’s decision of a tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to slap a $5.9 billion award against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case, PPP’s information secretary and MNA Dr Nafisa Shah in a statement issued here on Monday called for real accountability of those responsible for causing this massive loss to the country.

Dr Shah said that all people, including former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, should be brought to justice in this case.

She said the announcement of the constitution of a commission by Prime Minister Imran Khan to probe the case was just an eyewash because the counsel for Gen Pervez Musharraf, Barrister Farogh Naseem, was the law minister of the government and another character in this case, Senator Azam Swati, was also an influential member of the present federal cabinet.

Fawad Chaudhry calls for arrest of former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry, others

The PPP leader said that only politicians and civilians were undergoing the selective accountability in the country and the real corrupt elements who had embezzled national wealth were not being arrested.

Reacting to the $5.9 billion penalty awarded in the terminated Reko Diq mining contract, Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered on Sunday the formation of a commission to investigate as to how Pakistan ended up in this predicament.

The proposed commission will also investigate which elements were responsible for making Pakistan suffer such a massive loss and what lessons are to be learnt so that similar mistakes are not repeated in future.

However, it is not yet known who will be heading the commission and it is likely that names of its members will be announced later.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry while giving his reaction to the case said that the accountability process in the country could not be completed as long as former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry was not arrested with former president Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif.

“Iftikhar Chaudhry and the team of his touts are responsible for the present mess the country finds itself in,” the minister said.

“Hamid Khan and his son are also on the list of these touts,” he said, adding that though Hamid Khan belonged to his own Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), he should also be arrested.

Mr Chaudhry, who himself is a lawyer by profession, said Pakistan had spent more than $100 million on the fees for lawyers to fight cases at international forums. He said Reko Diq case was just the first case and more cases would follow soon.

“The damage caused to the country by this man (Iftikhar Chaudhry) was not less than the loss caused by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif (through their alleged corruption),” he said.

Besides freezing assets of Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif, he said there was a need to freeze assets of Iftikhar Chaudhry “before he settles them”, stating that Iftikhar Chaudhry was smarter than others and that he knew “how to clear his assets”.

The minister welcomed the prime minister’s decision to constitute a commission to investigate the matter and expressed the hope that all culprits would soon be brought to justice.

Late on Friday, an ICSID tribunal had slapped the whopping $5.97bn award against Pakistan that includes $4.08bn penalty and $1.87bn in interest in a 700-page ruling.

The ICSID tribunal was seized with a dispute between Pakistan and the Tethyan Copper Company Limited which had claimed $8.5bn in damages for rejecting its application by the mining authority of Balochistan for the multimillion dollar mining lease in the province in 2011.

Earlier, Pakistan had taken the plea before the tribunal that the agreement/mining licence for the Reko Diq project was procured through corrupt means and therefore, the claimant (TCC) could not ask for damages.

In 2013, the Supreme Court had also held the contract between Balochistan and the TCC as illegal.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019