Pakistan is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources, especially in Balochistan. These resources include gold, copper, chromite, barites, sulphur, marble,ore, quartzite and limestone. If the mineral wealth of this province is explored according to a well-thought-out plan, it can easily change the fate of the country. In order to better understand what can be the consequences of mismanaging the use of mineral resources, we should learn a lesson from Mongolia which is a mineral-rich, landlocked country that is sandwiched between China and Russia. Minerals in that country can be reached at a depth of just four feet from the ground. Since the country is completely landlocked, these minerals are exported to China and Russia through land routes. The raw material of these minerals is exported at a fraction of the price if the same is converted into finished goods. The country’s mineral wealth in 2011 was valued at $1 to $3 trillion. Due to questionable policies, the resource-rich Mongolia got tied up in debt of foreign lenders up to its neck. Pakistan should watch out and learn a lesson from Mongolia. The same can happen to us if we do not follow the right policies.
The area rich in minerals in Balochistan has been divided into various blocks. Since Pakistan does not have latest technology to extract these minerals, it can give one of the blocks to a reputable foreign company for exploration and extraction purposes. Also, the minerals should never ever be exported to other countries as raw materials; in fact the same should be exported in the form of finished goods. In addition, a lot of mineral reserves have been discovered in North Waziristan too. We should extract these minerals with the help of foreign companies and convert the same into finished goods. We should deploy sufficient number of our people for training purposes along with foreign companies so that future exploration and extraction should be undertaken indigenously.
Air-Cdre (r) Azfar A Khan (Karachi)