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ISLAMABAD: Following expressing serious reservations in the National Assembly (NA) the other day over the passage of the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022, the Balochistan National Party (BNP) chief, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Tuesday, held a special meeting with the head of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Maulana Fazlur Rehman to discuss the matters pertaining to political developments, especially in connection with Balochistan.

The BNP chief visited the residence of Maulana Fazl, who is also the head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), and expressed reservations for not taking him in confidence over the legislation regarding Reko Diq by the coalition partners.

According to a spokesman of Maulana, both the leaders during the meeting expressed concerns about not being taken into confidence over Reko Diq legislation and agreed on adopting a joint political strategy. Both leaders called the Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Bill against the 18th Amendment.

The BNP-M chief, a key ally of the Centre’s ruling alliance has publicly expressed displeasure with the government over recent legislation in connection with the Reko Diq project.

The ministers in the federal cabinet belonging to JUI and BNP Tuesday also boycotted a meeting of the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying that the government has not taken them into confidence over Reko Diq related legislation, sources said.

BNP leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal has summoned a meeting of the party’s core committee to ponder over the coalition with the federal government after developing differences over Reko Diq project’s legislation on December 15. Mengal had also refused to side with the government on the Reko Diq legislation and expressed his reservations on the issue.

The former chief minister (CM) of Balochistan had also refused to support the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022 in the lower house of the parliament. However, the ruling alliance, while apparently ignoring the concerns raised by the allies, managed to take the parliament’s nod on the bill.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, on Tuesday, said no one would be allowed to politicise the Reko Diq project, days after the Supreme Court declared a new deal with a foreign company legal.

Bizenjo has made it clear that the provincial taxes on the copper and gold mine project would go to Balochistan. He vowed not to give in the powers granted to the province after the 18th amendment to the constitution.

Last week, the apex court declared a new deal between a Canadian firm and the Pakistani government on the Reko Diq project legal. A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel shared their opinion on a reference sent by President Arif Alvi.

Canadian company Barrick Gold, which ended a long-standing dispute with Pakistan in March last to strike a new agreement, earlier asked the federal government to get clearance from parliament and the country’s top court to make its investment in the project save. In its short verdict, the apex court observed that the government had signed the agreement after taking the Balochistan Assembly into confidence and consulting experts.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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