QUETTA: Members of the Balochistan Assembly from the opposition and treasury benches were given an in-camera briefing on the Reko Diq copper and gold mining project on Monday.

In a joint resolution adopted in the last session, assembly members demanded that the province’s elected legislators should be taken into confidence about the project before taking a decision or signing an agreement about its future.

Balochistan Governor Syed Zahoor Ahmed Agha then summoned a special session of the assembly for an in-camera briefing.

Some 42 out of 65 members from both sides of the aisle attended the 10-hour session, briefed by the additional attorney general of Pakistan and officials from the federal authorities concerned.

10-hour session attended by 42 out of 65 lawmakers of Balochistan Assembly

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and his cabinet members also attended.

The session — presided over by Deputy Speaker Babar Khan Musakhail in the absence of Speaker Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali — started two hours later than the scheduled time.

A provincial government spokesman said a question-answer session was also held after the briefing in which officials and the additional attorney general replied to several questions asked by the assembly members.

“Provincial lawmakers were also app­rised of the verdicts given by international institutions about Reko Diq and the progress on their implementation,” the spokesman said.

Describing the arrangement of briefing as “a courageous step”, the spokesman claimed that for the first time in Balochistan’s history such an in-camera session was arranged by the government to brief legislators on an important project,

“The [provincial] government does not believe in taking decisions in closed rooms. All decisions, including those on Reko Diq and other issues, would be taken after close consultation with the opposition and all stakeholders concerned,” he said.

Rejecting criticism from different corners on holding an in-camera briefing, he said the provincial government was fully determined to protect the rights and resources of Balochistan.

The media was not allowed to cover the proceedings of the in-camera session, whereas all the ministers, advisers and parliamentary secretaries were also directed to keep their mobile phones with the assembly staff to participate in the session.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

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