Cancellation of Reko Diq mining lease behind arbitration, SC told.

ISLAMABAD -- The counsel for Balochistan informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that in an earlier Reko Diq litigation, the court was requested to stay out of the matter and wait for the outcome of an international arbitration that commenced soon after cancellation in 2011 of a mining lease awarded to Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP).

But Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman explained that the Supreme Court headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had decided to go ahead with the hearing of a petition filed by Maulana Abdul Haque. Eventually, the hearing culminated in declaring illegal and null and void the Chaghai hills exploration joint venture agreement for exploring gold and copper in Balochistan's Reko Diq area.

Consequently, on July 12, 2019, World Bank's tribunal called ICSID slapped a huge $6.4 billion award against Pakistan on a dispute between the government and TCCP for rejecting the latter's application by the mining authority of Balochistan for the multimillion-dollar mining lease in 2011.

A five-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, had taken up a presidential reference on reconstitution of the deal for exploration of copper and gold in Reko Diq.

When Justice Yayha Afridi asked about the cause that prompted the investor to opt for the international arbitration, Salahuddin Ahmed, the counsel for Balochistan, said the cancellation of mining lease in 2011 by the Balochistan government was the reason behind the arbitration.

The counsel argued that any decision in the present...

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