Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday issued notices to Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and other respondents in a petition seeking court’s directions to government about implementation of National Mineral Policy 2013.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamir Farooq also directed the respondents to submit their reply within two weeks in the petition moved by Dr Fuzail Siddiqui through Zulfikar Khalid Maluka Advocate and Pir Abdul Wahid Advocate.

In the petition, the petitioner Dr Fuzail Siddiqui cited Federation of Pakistan, through the Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources, Secretary Ministry of States & Frontier Regions, Mineral Investment Board, Director-General Minerals, DG Geological Survey of Pakistan, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan and Chairman, Board of Investment as respondents. The petitioner who is a renowned professional geoscientist moved the petition through legal firm Josh and Mak International under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.

Dr Fuzail contended that country lagged behind in growing of its mining industry despite presence of highly qualified geoscientists who were not allowed to play their role which could help formulate a viable policy and national vision for the same. Country’s bad luck had it that the mining or mining industry was never headed by a geoscientist or mining engineer rather such posts were monopolised by the establishment “baboos” with scant generalist knowledge.

He stated that without lamenting by delving in the past, suffice it to mention that the respondents for the first time in the whole history of the country came up with “National Mineral Policy 1995”.  Judging it on past actions of the respondents, it was a significant achievement as it helped all the stakeholders of mineral resources to ponder on its potentials and limitations. National Mineral Policy of 1995 gave way to National Mineral Policy 2013.

He added that one of the major differences of the two policies is that when the first national policy was formulated in 1995, the federation had dominant say in the subject. However, after the passing of 18th Amendment to the Constitution, that role has diluted by way of devolution of the subject to the federating units.

The petitioner continued that in line with the above, it is submitted that KP is the only province of the federation which has come up with formulation of its own policy. The petitioner did contribute significantly in formulation of the same, and that role is acknowledged in the said policy itself.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that under these policies, the Government has emphasized that in implementing the mineral policy it will take into account international standards. One of such standards is to take into and give preference to geoscientists and mining engineers as Qualified Persons (QP) to have final say in the mineral exploration and exploitation industry.

The counsel argued that now it is an established international practice that whenever there is a discovery of mineral made or announced, the details of such exploration to the public have to be disclosed through a report of a ‘Qualified Person’. If tomorrow there is some incorrect statement made by the QP, his/her professional credibility could be readily questioned. However, if there is a non-qualified high ranking person making any statement which is subsequently found to be untrue, he may get away with it by simply asserting that it was not his field.

He maintained that to elucidate the foregoing assertion of the petitioner, it is submitted that recent announcement made at Chiniot on 11-02-2015 in front of the Prime Minister of Pakistan that there are huge deposits of gold and copper and this deposit was bigger than the Reko Diq of Baluchistan was  merely a premature and untimely announcement.

He added that may be it was made to divert attention of people, or for the motive best known to the concerned authorities. There is no denying of the fact that there may be huge deposits of minerals at the Chiniot site but the percentage and volume and even presence of respective deposits is still not confirmed as the survey is still underway.  This premature announcement, apparently for taking credit for past work of geoscientists and for unproven future accomplishments that may or may not materialize, will be detrimental to national interest and be a loss to every citizen of Pakistan.

Advocate Zufikar said that it is to be noted that once a credible discovery is announced, following the international standards, the potential investors from the world over take notice and enquire with a view to investment. On the contrary, when announcement is made flouting the international standards it erodes the credibility and the mining investment industry considers it a scam of some kind and becomes cautious so far investment is concerned. Thus even a genuine discovery may subsequently remain coloured in suspicion.

He adopted before the court that the National Mineral Policy 2013 does provide a mechanism for its implementation, however, since its formulation bureaucratic bottle-necks are not allowing its implementation, and Governments of the day i.e. the respondents are presenting it merely a decorative show piece.

The counsel said that the petitioner is not praying any interference of the court in the said policy. What the petitioner is asking is that the respondents who have formulated “National Mineral Policy 2013” be directed to implement it in its letter and spirit, and that too, only for the larger public interest.

Therefore, he prayed that the court may graciously be pleased to accept this writ petition and declare that the elected governments are required to implement policies which are formulated for the benefit of the public at large and “National Mineral Policy 2013” is one such policy and needs implementation in terms of clause 20 of the same policy in its letter and spirit.

He further requested that it may be declared that there is no legal hitch or constitutional hindrance in implementation of the “National Mineral Policy 2013” on the part of the respondents, therefore, the respondents be directed to implement and act upon it in the larger national interest.