QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani has renewed a pledge to defend the rich copper and gold reserves at Reko Diq along with the other mineral and natural wealth found elsewhere in the province.
“I cannot even think of selling Reko Diq’s at a throwaway price,” Raisani told media here on Friday evening. “I will remain in the Chief Minister Secretariat or at the Sarawan House, I will continue to defend my people’s wealth and resources no matter what the cost,” he added.
He claimed that a deliberate campaign was afoot to vilify him in the media and bear down pressure on him. The chief minister, however, vowed to resist all such plots against him and promised to continue to protect the natural wealth of Balochistan. He was referring to columnists and analysts who were giving the incorrect impression of him being willing to sell his people’s assets at a throwaway prices.
Raisani said that that they were naïve and were unaware of the facts and the ground realities of the issue and had instead begun to speculate. He challenged them to prove the charges brought forward against him.
He advised the media to avoid speculation and cease the vilification campaign against him as he believed that the resources at Reko Diq and elsewhere were the property of the people of Balochistan.
The chief minister said that he considered himself the custodian of the natural wealth of his people. “It is impossible that I will sell it at a throwaway price,” Raisani told journalists.
“I would be the last person to take such a decision,” he said, reiterating his stand that the government of Balochistan had the will, the resources and the expertise to operate the Reko Diq project.
Nawab Raisani renewed his earlier stance of there being no fresh agreement with the Chilean company. Though there is an agreement pertaining to exploration of mineral wealth only, he said, there is no agreement on the exploitation of mineral wealth at Reko Diq.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2010.