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Barrick Gold colonel invites Baluch ire

by Ahmar MustikhanNewsvine
June 5th, 2009

Young son of Ghulam Mohammed Baluch at his father's grave in Mand, Mekran. The grave is draped in the flag of the Baluchistan National Movement that Ghulam Mohammed Baluch headed. Picture courtesy Baluch Sarmachar

The De Jure Ruler of Baluchistan, Khan of Kalat Suleman Daud, and national hero Hairbyair Marri have expressed their deep resentments over the remarks of a Pakistani army colonel working for Barrick Gold Corporation against the Baluch struggle for their national rights.

The Khan's outburst came in the wake of an email sent out by Colonel Sher Khan, public affairs manager and security in-charge at the multi-billion Reko Diq gold-cum-copper project in Chagai, Baluchistan. According to rough estimates, there are 12.3 million tons of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold at Reko Diq.

Colonel Sher Khan in his email sent said the secret services of Pakistan, namely the infamous Inter Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence, did not abduct or kill Ghulam Mohammed Mohammed Baluch, 50, Lala Munir Baluch, 50, and Sher Mohammed Baluch, 35.

According to Press reports the three liberation activists were kidnapped on April 3, 2009 from the office of their lawyer Kachkol Ali Advocate, who was himself a former government minister and leader of the opposition in Baluchistan assembly.

Kachkol Ali Advocate ran from pillar to post to have a case registered against the personnel of the Pakistan secret services without luck.

After their abduction, Pakistani military intelligence officials shot them in the head and then dropped their bodies from a military helicopter outside Turbat, family and friends of the slain leaders said.

The United Nations and the United States condemned the killings of the three activists.

"Reko Diq is the property and national resource of the Baluch. Foreign companies that have gone there are at their own risk. Tomorrow whatever happens with them it will be their own fault," the Khan of Kalat said from his home in Cardiff, U.K., expressing his anguish over the Pakistani colonel's remarks.

"We Baluch do not want to harm the foreigners. But if they go into the Baluch areas and continue their exploitation, they will be seen as enemies and there will be no mercy for enemies."

He warned foreign companies venturing into Baluchistan to be ready for collateral damage.

"The Baluch have the right to oppose the exploiters in every way they deem necessary," he said. "Those who are exploited have the right to stop the exploitation. If the Canadians come into harms way, the Baluch would not be held responsible. We have the right to defend our national resources," he said.

According to press reports from Quetta, the colonel's email further insinuated that the three Baluch liberation activists were killed by their own men over a fight over the ransom.

"There was no question of ransom," the Khan of Kalat said.

Baluch national hero Hairbyair Marri, talking to this correspondent from London, deplored that someone working for a multinational corporation was echoing the propaganda of the Pakistani intelligence setup.

"Foreign companies are ignoring the local people and their genuine representatives and joining hands with the Punjabi rulers as all the licenses everything is being given out to them by the Punjabi rulers," Marri said. "it is our stated position that foreign companies have no right to do business in Baluchistan until the key issue of Baluch sovereignty over their resources is settled."

Marri said foreign companies have joined hands with the Punjabi oppressors. "When something bad happens they come running to the Baluch. They should not expect good from us. Whether they consider this as a threat or an advise it is up to them," he said.

Earlier, two presiding council members of the American Friends of Baluchistan, Mohammed Ali Baloch from Philadelphia and Karim Bakhsh Baloch from Atlantic City wrote to senior executives of the Barrick Gold Corporation in Toronto to protest Colonel Sher Khan's attack on the Baluch national liberation movement for peace, justice and democracy.

The A.F.B. leaders deplored that the said official working with the Barrick Gold Corporation was engaged in a mudslinging campaign against the best sons of the Baluch soil who gave their blood so that the coming generations could lead their lives in freedom.

"Canadian firms generally meet Western European and Scandinavian standards when it comes to basic human rights, aspirations of the local population, and concern for the environment when it comes to mining in the virgin areas of the world," Mohammed Ali Baloch of Philadelphia and Karim Bakhsh Baloch of Atlantic City wrote to Barrick Gold vice presidents, Vincent Borg and Deni Nicoski.

The A.F.B. leaders asked Barrick Gold Corporation what kind of safeguards have been put against environmental degradation at Reko Diq.

Copper-and-gold mining and extraction has extreme affects on the environment.

"We also like to know what steps Barrick Gold Corporation has taken to ensure that at least 95 percent of all workers and managers are ethnic Baluch?" they asked.

They urged Barrick Gold Corporation to set up a technical institute in Chagai to train the local Baluch workforce. "If need be, these Baluch youths may be brought to Canada for further training," they said

They demanded of the Barrick Gold Corporation to fire Colonel Sher Khan immediately and threatened a hunger strike in front of the Barrick Gold offices in North America.

"Needless to say, we do not trust the Pakistani authorities at all," the A.F.B. leaders said.

Borg or Nicoski had not returned phone calls till the filng of this report.


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