Quwat Khan Sunny
“The more they want to take away from me, the more attached I get to it”, said by Ken Messe, a man in Mataric, a small town inCanada. He was fighting an expropriation from a multi-billion dollar Gold mining project undertaken by Osisko Mining Corp. He is said to be literally sitting on the gold mines and was refusing to move from his mother’s home until a court had to step in. Defending his action, Messe’ said that he was not a stubborn man but a man with a fighting spirit for property rights and the environment. The price for his house was $14000 but according to some sources Messe’ turned down as much as 4-million-dollar offers from Osisko Mining Corp.
Ken Messe, though, could not win his case – a court decision came against him— but, at least, he filtered his stance through a due legal process and played a role for a right cause.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan should learn something from Ken Masse, at least, in the matter of safeguarding the natural resources and the environment. Politically underpowered, economically underprivileged and strategically stranded nation means a muddy situation translating a long painful journey which the generation or their children may have to travel. Along the way, the means to survive is nothing but the fragile environment and the few pits of natural resources.
When a nation is gasping for air, saviours and messiahs do pop up, offering jobs; taxes, revenue, industries, development, democracy, rights, political power, so and so on. The genius of the Messiahs is that: they know your problem and they have a cure for that. But the problem with the Messiahs is that: there is no mechanism to authenticate the hidden motive or the real intention.
East India Company came as Messiah into Sub-Continent. Instead of healing something, they robed, hijacked and broke the continent into pieces. Enron Corporation and Unocal’s ambition to develop trans-Afghanistan gas pipelines only caused trans-national bloodbath in Afghanistan.
In 1972, Saddam Hussain kicked out all the foreign oil companies from the country making room for local companies to thrive. They stepped in and did exceptionally well.Iraqwas much better in advanced education, learning, medical care and economic development. When the American Military finished their business in Iraq War, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International and Schlumberger, the American gigantic companies arrived to drill Iraqi fields. Now don’t tell me, this is a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with multiple positive effects on the people ofIraq, As Mehdi Shah would teach you. Analyze theIraq, now and then.
The issuance of the mining license, secretly, to Mohsin Industries by Mehdi Shah on the directives of President Zardari, reminds me the story of Hamid Karzai’s relation with George.W.Bush, the then governor ofTexas. Craig Murray, a British ambassador toUzbekistanwrites in his book “the murder inSamarkand” that Hamid Karzai was an oil consultant of Cheveron and UNOCAL (American Oil Companies). Karzia organized negotiations with Taliban about trans-Afghanistan pipelines intoUzbekistangas reserves. Bush Senior, the father of Governor Bush was the direct shareholder of Unocal. George W.Bush later became the president of theUnited Statesand Hamid Karzai, the English speaking oil consultant, became the president ofAfghanistanwho now can be seen dealing with Afghan sufferings. Craig Murray describes this as a motive behind the invasion ofAfghanistan.
Another great American writer, Eric S Morgolis says in his book (American Raj, liberation or Domination?), “The unstated strategic goal of the invasion: to ‘secure’ a long-sought pipeline corridor fromUzbekistan, throughAfghanistan, to Pakistan Arabian seaportofKarachi.” He further mentions the stories of Hamid Karzai and Khalilzad being on payroll of Chevron and Unocal, validating what the British Ambassador has written in his book.
So modern corporations do cause wars, create wars and figuratively occupy nations, and it happens only when the Messiahs get support of the fifth-column consultants, politicians or statesmen against people like Ken Messe’.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan, officially, and through street resolutions have denied Mohsin Industries as Messiah, who offers jobs, better future and economic development in the region. Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) also passed a resolution against encroachment of the foreign companies over the natural resources of the region. Few years back, the company was banned for its suspicious activities. Now what factors spotlighted its credentials to venture into Gilgit-Baltistan?
ICRIS CSC Companies Registry of the government of Hong Kong records show that BAO Billion Mining group (Mohsin Industries) has been incorporated in Hong Kong, only a year ago, on July 6th, 2010 with CR No 1476648. Few months later, Mohsin Industries applied for a license to dig out Gilgit-Baltistan and the company was given an authority from someone inIslamabad to plunder the region. More than 200 local companies were bypassed, the GBLA was ignored and many others were left to protest.
Remember, most companies from mainlandChinago toHong Kongto incorporate their businesses, for the country generally has a loose registration policy with several loopholes for tax evasion.Hong Kongis a paradise for shell companies too— who knows what this company is all about.
Mehdi Shah initially propagated to his people that the license was given to Mohsin Industries by his bosses inIslamabad– an act beyond his ambit of powers. His recent statements published by Shah-focused local media revealed that Mehdi now denies issuance of license ab initio. But that, of course, is to calm down the hues and cries of the local people who are murmuring to kick the company out of the canyons in the regions, at any cost.
Some sources claim that Mehdi Shah’s son is a direct stakeholder in the company’s Mission Gilgit-Baltistan, which of course the Chief Minister has denied. An informer also claimed that some local newspapers have received under-table payments with a promise to leverage support for foreign companies. What a pity!
We, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, often, take pride in calling ourselves simpleton nation. I think there is no need to be super simple animal. If you are too simple to take from, at least, be clever enough to save what you already have. Stop the looters, be it Mohsin Industires, Metallurgical Corporation ofChina, Surpass Mining, Maverick Gold or somebody else. Put a lid on the fifth-column mushrooms that grow overnight to feed the ectoparasites. We appreciate the Wang Zunyu has converted to Islam but that does not entitles him to blast Gilgit-Baltistan.
Those who teach the power of FDI will never teach you the underlying economic assumptions that make FDI work. Those who are optimistic about jobs should foresee the situation of labour management in a disputed territory. You may also think of revenue generation but do you remember the 10-year tax holiday mischief? In 10 years, the former Wang Zunyu will transfer everything toHong Kong. Since, there is no mechanism and awareness about sustainable development, our environment is endangered too. Above all, there is no constitutional or legal protection for what you aspire from the looters. With their power of money, they can dig out your backyard any time. It would be too late, then, to bang your head against the wall.
We, as nation, keep dancing around— with the sermon of Mullahs, with the command of generals or with the promise of the politicians. Our future decisions should no more be lured by this music. Let’s build a genuine emotional attachment to thelandofGilgit-Baltistan; use our brains and save our motherland.
The contributor is based in Canada. He belongs to Yasin Valley, Ghizar. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org