God has gifted Pakistan with every kind of mineral resources for all kinds of industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural uses. By adopting policy of self-reliance, we could not only save foreign exchange, but also earned a lot through export of precious metals, stones and minerals.

Unfortunately, our leaders adopted ways to earn maximum kick backs by engaging foreign companies to explore and extract our resources. For instance, when iron ore was discovered at Kalabagh, we offered this to a Russian consortium for use in under construction national steel mill in Karachi. The company degraded our ore as inferior and decided to import it from their own country results in heavy transportation costs and loss of precious foreign exchange. Similarly, we have abundance of white marble deposits at Malagori in KPK and other tribal areas as well as jet black granite at Oggi, near Manshera.

However, we failed to realize the potential of these reserves due to interference by tribal owners and poor governmental policies. We have deposits of precious stones in the Northern areas, which could fetch huge money and make our economy strong. A few years back, an international firm was given license to explore gold in Rekodek, Baluchistan, without clear agreement on price and geographical limits. When the firm succeeded in finding gold in a vast area, a dispute erupted on how much area came under reach of the company for excavation.

The Supreme court at the time also got involved and issued a stay against any querying. Unfortunately, the international firm took the dispute to world trade forum winning millions of dollars in compensation and the project is lying incomplete due to governmental incompetence at provincial level. The government needs to pay a little attention to such neglected projects spread all over Pakistan and set the house right by taking solid steps toward self-reliance.

RAJA SHAFAATULLAH,

Islamabad, February 28.