Baluchistan: Drawing parallels with the exploitative projects of China in Baluchistan, Baloch activists termed the international investment by a Canadian firm, Barrick Gold, in the province a "double standard" by the west and urged the firm to avoid investing in Baluchistan in view of the human rights abuses and the deprivation of freedom of the Baloch.

The activists have accused the Pakistani Army of using financial support from international companies like Canadian firm Barrick Gold to expand Baloch's genocide.

"We have repeatedly protested the involvement of the Canadian firm Barrick Gold in the Reko Dik project and we have demanded that no aid of any kind be given to Pakistan as Pakistan is using the aid received by the international community against the Baloch," said Dil Murad Baloch, Secretary General of Baloch National Movement (BNM).

So far, he said the firm has not withdrawn from this project which is a matter of great concern. He also highlighted that western media criticizes CPEC and other exploitative projects of China in Balochistan but when companies from western countries follow China's footsteps in Balochistan, then it is considered positive.

"This double standard is not acceptable. Barrick Gold and the Canadian government should avoid investing in Balochistan in the context of human rights abuses and the deprivation of freedom of the Baloch nation because Pakistan is using our resources to strengthen its colonial position by killing and dumping the dead bodies of Baloch people," he said.

Notably, Barrick Gold Corporation is a mining company that produces gold and copper. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mark Bristow, President of Barrick Gold, held discussions with Pakistani officials and finished all the documents needed to start building Reko Diq being approved by the country's president Arif Alvi.

The Reko Diq project, a USD 7 billion copper project, which hosts one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits, has been on hold since 2011 due to a dispute over the legality of its licensing process. The project will be owned 50 per cent by Barrick, 25 per cent by the province of Balochistan and 25 per cent by major Pakistani state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

According to reports, this project is seen as illegal exploitation of the Baloch resources. The consent of the Baloch people was never sought in the project despite legal requirements.

Murad Baloch in response to the custodial killings of 'ten forcibly disappeared persons' in fake encounters in Mastung and Kharan said that in Baluchistan, Pakistani forces had been killing enforced disappeared persons in fake encounters.

He said that the international community instead of stopping them is funnelling financial support or they had become a partner by exploiting the natural resources of Baluchistan in the name of investment. Baloch also said that by following the instructions of the Pakistan Army, the government created the so-called Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in the police department which was assigned the task of making civilians forcibly disappear and kill them in fake encounters to erase 'the bloody footprints of the Pakistan Army.

In a press release, the Baloch National Movement, said that this year, in Balochistan, Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh dozens of forcibly disappeared persons were killed in fake encounters by branding them as terrorists through fabricated stories.

The Secretary-General said there was news of the discovery of at least 238 unknown bodies in Nishtar Hospital Multan. Recently, after the tragedy of Ziarat , the protest sit-in of the relatives of the enforced disappeared persons ended with the assurance of the Pakistani government that no one among the disappeared person will be killed, but on the contrary, 10 enforced disappeared persons were killed in two consecutive fake encounters within two days, it said.

"Pakistani court and government representatives, opposition parties sitting in the parliament and 'allies of the Islamabad government' have failed to keep their promises and claims by preventing the forced disappearances and custodial killing of enforced disappeared persons. On the other hand, human rights organizations are also unable to play an effective role."

"The people have been deprived of rights and justice by the state of Pakistan. Despite all the peaceful struggles and protests of millions of people against forced disappearances, the Pakistan Army is not giving up its heinous act. It is an arrogant and brutal use of force aimed at the complete destruction of the Baloch nation," said Secretary General.

He also pointed out that on October 16, Mushtaq son of Abdul Rasheed, Ali Ahmad son of Taj Muhammad, Habib-Ur-Rahman son of Abdul Samad, Obaidullah, Muhammad Dawood son of Sher Muhammad and Niaz Muhammad son of Abdul Bari was killed by CTD in a fake encounter in Kabu area of Mastung district.

It accused the operations of the CTD of misleading the media and said that the department dubs those forcibly disappeared persons as ISIS fighters.

"It is a pity that the Urdu website of the official media of an important European country falsely declared it a successful operation against terrorists. While cases of victims of enforced disappearances are part of the media and human rights record, irresponsible media reporting is like rubbing salt on the wounds of the families of the enforced disappearances."

He also said that on the second day of the Mastung fake encounter, on October 17, 2022, the CTD claimed another encounter in Kharan and four more enforced disappeared persons.

"According to human rights organizations, Fareed son of Abdul Razzaq Badini resident of Nushkay was detained by the Pakistan Army on September 28, 2022, Salal son of Abdul Baqi from Noshkay arrested by the Pakistan Army on October 6, 2022, from Shaal and Wasim Tabish from Khuzdar on June 9, 2021. Waseem Tabish was a Brahui language poet and human rights activist, who regularly participated in protests against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings."

The Secretary-General said even in these circumstances, he has hoped that neighbouring nations and the international community will raise their voices against these atrocities of Pakistan, as investors affiliated with some powerful countries like China are looting the resources of Baluchistan.