Like any other developing country, Pakistan also finds its natural resources a source of a bane to itself, sometimes politically, sometimes financially. The award of $5.976 billion against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) is a testament to what is said above.

The amount that Pakistan is supposed to pay in damages to the TCC equals the loan that Pakistan wants to get from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Reko Diq agreement that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared void in 2013 needs a proper investigation. But will the investigation help the government anyway? In the present spree of accountability, why should the ones responsible for acting against the laws of the land be spared? Those who went against the rules and violated the procedures are responsible for incurring such a loss to the national exchequer.

The whole saga is a sorry tale of the incompetence of the state machinery. Nevertheless, sources reveal that Islamabad will challenge the award. In that case, a question worth asking is if Pakistan is left with any other remedy. Islamabad has two options against the award. It can either file a revision against the decision of the tribunal. Or it can ask the international body to annul its award. If Islamabad chooses the former option, it will need to provide a new set of evidence that can show that the deal struck with TCC was a deal marred by corruption. But even then the burden of proof will be on the shoulders of Pakistan’s legal team. Earlier this year, ICSID also decided against Pakistan in Karkey Rental Power dispute. The latest award is the second jolt to the Pakistani state. Pakistan needs to learn from this debacle. The government needs to learn to honour deals it makes with countries and foreign companies.