Reko Diq settlement reflects political consensus, SC told.

ISLAMABAD -- The Supreme Court was informed on Monday that Reko Diq settlement negotiations were effectively concluded by the previous government and the commitment to see these through was reinforced by the present coalition government and this was indeed a new start to build a consensus across political divide to advance Pakistan's economic progress.

Senior counsel Zahid F. Ebrahim, who was appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court), emphasised before a five-judge SC bench hearing a presidential reference on the mining deal for exploration of gold and copper in Balochistan's Reko Diq area that the renewed settlement, when finalised, will restore Pakistan's international credibility, economic credentials and help feature the country as a foreign investment destination on the world's map.

The bench was headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial.

'Yes, the foreign mining firms in TCCA (Tethyan Copper Company, Australia) will stand to recover their investments, but Pakistan too stands to gain,' the counsel said.

Amicus curiae says deal will restore Pakistan's international credibility, economic credentials

The basis of SC's 2013 decision, Mr Ebrahim argued, was a midstream change in Balochistan government's stand, which was vigorously defending the Chagai hills exploration joint venture agreement before the Balochistan High Court as legal and transparent.

But its representatives, he said, resiled from the stated position in the apex court and targeted the agreement as illegal and contrary to the interests of the province, stating the business of exploring and mining was a risky one involving huge amounts and modern technology and that the provincial government lacked resources to explore the minerals.

The counsel recalled how the proceedings in the BHC were instituted on the basis of allegations made in a May 26, 2004 newspaper article, which were ironically withdrawn by the same newspaper a week later. But the petition in the Supreme Court took a life of its own during the proceedings, the counsel argued, adding that the reference was an appropriate stage for all concerned to reflect on the perils of making reckless allegations of corruption and the damage caused by such allegations when the notoriety fades in the face of lack of actionable evidence.

'Legal historians have not judged us well every time our self-righteous exuberance of anti-corruption has diluted our adherence to international contracts. This is our occasion...

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