Supreme Court declares Reko Diq agreement legal

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Reko Diq agreement

Islamabad: In a major development, the Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday declared the new Reko Diq agreement between the Pakistan government and two international firms — Antofagasta PLC and Barrick Gold Corporation — in March for the revival of the long-stalled Reko Diq mining project as legal on Friday.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court announced its unanimous opinion on a presidential reference.

President Dr Arif Alvi, on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, had filed a reference in the Supreme Court, seeking its opinion on the matter.

Through the reference, the President asked two legal questions: 

  1.  Whether the Government of Balochistan or the Government of Pakistan can enter into an international agreement as per Supreme Court’s Judgment in the Molvi Abdul Haq vs Federation of Pakistan 2013 Case.
  2. If the proposed Foreign Investment (Protection and Promotion) Act 2022 would accord to the constitution?

After 16 hearings on the reference, the apex court reserved its opinion on November 29. Today, the larger bench announced its unanimous opinion in a 13-page short order.

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The SC, in its order, observed that the government had entered the agreement after consulting experts, as per court directives, and the Balochistan Assembly was taken into confidence regarding the agreement.

The court observed that there was nothing “illegal” in the new agreement, adding that the agreement did not contradict the 2013 verdict given by the top court.

The order stated that the law did not allow agreements on national resources in violation of the Constitution and that provinces could amend laws pertaining to minerals.

The order further stated that Barrick Gold Corporation assured that laws for wages would be abided by and most of the labor force would be recruited from Pakistan.