Mohammad Jamil Recently, the renowned nuclear scientist and member of the Planning Commission, Dr Samar Mubarakmand, while addressing the ninth convocation of GCU, said: If we take steps in the right way, Pakistan will become a developed country within next two decades. At this point in time, when the nation is disappointed over the flawed policies of an inept government, when Pakistan has accumulated a foreign debt of more than $56 billion and the IMF is hell bent on bringing misery to the common man, the nuclear scientist has given hope to the nation. He revealed: A small part of the Reko Diq gold and copper mines (EL-5) have deposits worth $273, while a similar kind of reserves have also been discovered in North Waziristan. Dr Mubarakmand is appearing on TV channels frequently, perhaps, to remind those at the helm that everything should be transparent, and Pakistan should not be robbed of its national wealth by the foreigners with the support of the corrupt government functionaries. According to reports: Quietly, and below the media radar, some 20 top corporate bosses and lobbyists of two of the worlds largest gold mining groups have been meeting President Zardari, PM Gilani, Governor State Bank and others in Islamabad, pressing them to quickly hand over one of the worlds biggest gold and copper treasures found in Balochistan at Reko Diq, worth over $260 billion, to their companies, and for peanuts. The Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Pakistan can pick up the issue and put a hold on whatever is going on before any binding contracts and deals are signed, which may cause losses of billions of dollars, yes billions of dollars to Pakistan. However, it is important to mention that it was the court that stalled the shady deal of selling the Pakistan Steel Mills just for peanuts by the Shaukat Aziz government. Today, the media is vigilantly monitoring the performance of the government functionaries. Thus, the nation now knows that Pakistan has the potential to overcome the energy crisis. In this connection, Dr Mubarakmand said: Coal reserves are also available in powder form underwater, and Pakistan could produce 50,000 megawatt electricity and 100 million barrel diesel just through the gasification of these reserves. The talented students had already carried out a successful project to make diesel from the coal gas at the laboratory level. With his past, one should believe him. On the basis of the scientists interviews in the media about the exploration of gold and copper from Reko Diq, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court. Now Dr Mubarakmand has been asked to appear before the bench on January 12, 2010, to assist the court in the case. According to him, the figures given by the foreign exploration company were only limited to the EL-5 licence for which a feasibility study has also been submitted by the it. However, much larger parts of the same gold and copper belt have not yet been evaluated. In the last hearing, CJ Chaudhry, heading a three-member bench, had said: We are Pakistanis and should keep the national interests in view. While Balochistans Attorney General Salahuddin Mengal had maintained: The processing licence has been given to BHP (now known as BHP Billiton after a 2001 merger), the company earned millions of dollars by floating shares in market; however, Balochistan was not given even a penny. However, the companys counsel had informed that the amount worth $435 million was spent in the exploration of the natural resources but nothing was earned. So the CJ said: The processing licence could not be further sold; first the licence-holder should give due share to the province. Dr Mubarakmand is of the opinion that Pakistan has the capability to exploit these mineral resources. Even in case of Thar Coal, he is hopeful that with the local expertise, Pakistan can convert coal into gas, and that diesel can also be produced from this source. He said that a pilot project has already been conducted. Pakistan has the best research organisations and, therefore, it should not spend its foreign exchange on hiring foreign consultants and contracting companies. Since the case of Reko Diq is with the apex court, it is hoped that the Supreme Court would ensure that everything will be done in a transparent manner, and nobody would be allowed to rob the national wealth. However, Pakistan government should immediately form a talent pool under the able stewardship of Dr Mubarakmand, so that he can produce prodigious results in this field, as he had done in the nuclear field. Four licences (EL-5, EL-6, EL-7 and EL-8) are said to have been issued. An English daily reports: What has been found in EL-7 is also a mystery and the foreign company has not revealed anything to anyone about its findings in these areas. But the scientist has explained all these points and says that the Baloch government has not issued any licence to any company, and there is no guarantee that the same company, which carried out the exploration, would get the mining licence. Anyhow, we hope that the apex court would take up the case and will keep its traditions by blocking the deals, if they are against Pakistans interest. Although Dr Mubarakmand has been named as the Chairman of the Reko Diq Development Project, yet he said that work will start when the Balochistan government issues the required notification to launch the project for which the money was also available. Having said that, there seems to be something fishy about Reko Diq. Last month, two competitors - Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) and Benway Corporation (an American company) - issued statements against each other. The latter had accused TCC and its principals of playing games with Pakistan. It said: Reko Diq deposits had not been fully declared to the government of Balochistan by its sponsors. While TCC claimed that the mineral resource at Reko Diq was estimated at 5.9 billion tons. It said: From this resource, an estimated 2.2 billion tons of economically mine-able ore, with an average copper grade of 0.5 percent and an average gold grade of 0.3 gms per ton will be processed to produce 2.2 billion pounds of copper (10 million tons) and 13 million ounces of gold in form of payable metal in about 56 years of mine life. However, according to a 2008 study conducted by both these companies involving top experts of geology and mining, much larger deposits were reported. But one thing is for sure. The resources in Balochistan can change the destiny of the nation and obviously the Balochis would be the first beneficiaries. Of course, Pakistan will be able to pay back IMF the bailout loans, relieve the burden from the common man and safeguard its sovereignty. The writer is a freelance columnist.