By Deepak Sharma
Pakistan, in violation of international laws and defiance of its own Constitution, has given a free hand to Chinese mining companies to plunder natural resources in the occupied Gilgit Baltistan (GB) area. Not only that, Islamabad has also signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Beijing to build a mega dam in the Daimer division, an area that legally belongs to India.
Over 2,000 leases for mining of gold, uranium and molybdenum have been illegally awarded to Chinese firms by the Pakistan government in Gilgit and Baltistan, also known as Northern Areas.
The Imran Khan government has thrown environmental norms to the wind while allotting these illegal mining contracts revealed Nasir Aziz Khan, exiled leader and Chief Spokesperson of United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP), a prominent political outfit of GB area.
“We will expose Pakistan’s conspiracy to plunder natural resources in the forthcoming convention of the United Nations in Geneva, next month,” Aziz told IANS over phone.
Citing article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Aziz said that the government in Islamabad has no right to plunder natural resources in GB.
“Rules are being blatantly flouted. The media cannot report. People who raise voice in GB are being punished. In such given circumstances when no one can oppose any decision, natural resources are being looted. Pakistan is playing into the hands of China,” Aziz said.
“Local people are not consulted. Their interests have been totally ignored. The move to oblige China in the GB area also violates international laws,” the UKPMP leader who lives in Geneva, Switzerland added.
In Northern Areas, which include three divisions, Gilgit, Baltistan and Diamer, the media is literally censored by the federal government. “In this part of the world (GB area), the press is controlled by the Pak government. A few local newspapers which are printed outside are checked and monitored by the agencies in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“Consequently huge dams are being blatantly constructed. Precious mines, minerals and other resources are being plundered. The entire area is under the influence of China. In lieu of giving military support to Pakistan, the Chinese are looting our land and its rich resources,” said the exiled leader of UKPNP.
Recently a Rs 442-billion joint venture was inked between a Chinese state-run firm and a commercial wing of Pakistan’s military to construct the mega Diamer Bhasha Dam.
While natural resources of GB would be used to generate 45,000 MW of electricity, the end users would be largely the people of Pakistan living outside Northern Areas.
Although there is a provincial assembly in GB, the government is virtually run by the Governor at the behest of Islamabad. Last year the leader of opposition in GB Assembly raised the issue of plundering of natural resources like uranium and gold by Chinese companies but such voices of dissent were silenced. The issue was given no coverage even in the national media.