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August 4, 2009

Barrick Gold denying Baluch jobs; Lakhani role under question

By Ahmar Mustikhan

A man who is on the council of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is part of an alleged racket in cahoots with a Toronto-based international gold giant that has reportedly resulted in billions of dollars of losses to Baluchistan.

The man in question is a Pakistani businessman named Muslim Lakhani, who was a polo buddy of Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, then got involved with the Musharaf regime that unleashed a bloody military operation against the Baluch and was point-man of Barrick Gold Corporation in Pakistan.

Lakhani is a non-Baluch and locals complain they are being denied jobs at the Barrick Gold Corporation project at Reko Diq in Baluchistan.

Lakhani, who arrived in the US a couple of years ago, is on the council of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. He contributed $82,000 to the Obama election campaign last year.

"I have no clue who he is," said the exiled De Jure Ruler of Baluchistan, Khan of Kalat Suleman Daud. "I think he was involved with Shaukat Aziz and company," he said. "People from Karachi can tell you more about him," he said.

Shaukat Aziz was premier during the Musharraf regime.

Lakhani's role in the transfer of the gold and copper project to Barrick Gold Corporation and Antafagosta is being cited as a classic example of exploitation of indigenous people by touts of the occupation forces.

"We have seen similar reports from Peru and Guatemala," said London-based Baluch resistance hero Hyrbyiar Marri, 41. He said this shows how corruption money made in oppressed countries are then used to buy influence and prestige in the civilized West.

"The world must know about the loot and plunder going on in Occupied Baluchistan," Marri said.

Interestingly, Lakhani got involved with the gold and copper in Baluchistan under patronage of the coup leader General Pervez Musharraf regime, which started the worst military operation against the Baluch people. At the time when the former dictator was engaged in a brutal military operation, Lakhani was showering praise on the Musharraf regime.

[The last four years of the Musharraf government at the federal and provincial level have been unprecedented in terms of support for the project," says Lakhani.


There has been widespread anguish in Baluchistan over how Lakhani, just because of his contacts with the former Musharraf regime, managed to give the short end of the stick to the Baluch people.

Critics say that the government in Islamabad blundered by selling what may be the world's biggest untapped copper and gold deposits, worth over $100 billion, to foreign mining firms at a throwaway price, to the disservice of the people of the country's most backward province and economy
[Source PKONWEB : http://pkonweb.com/tag/tethyan-copper/ ]

On August 14 at around 5.30 pm, protesters will march from the St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church on 16th and Newton Streets to Lakhani's office at 1155 23rd street northwest Washington DC at 23rd and M streets where a candle light vigil will be observed for Pakistan's war crimes against Baluchistan.

The Baluch are observing black day on Pakistan's independence as their Texas-sized homeland was annexed against their wishes on March 27, 1948 by Pakistan army.

The DC-based American Friends of Baluchistan is calling upon international auditors to see how Lakhani and Barrick Gold Corporation joined hands in what Pakistani media reports suggest was one of the biggest white-collar crimes in Pakistan's history.

The AFB is also demanding 100 percent of jobs for Baluch locals and have condemned a Barrick Gold manager, a retired Pakistani Colonel named Sher Khan, who sent an email in defense of Pakistani intelligence officials crimes against humanity in Baluchistan.

In spring, Pakistani intelligence officials had tortured and killed three Baluch activists Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammed Baloch who were fighting for Baluchistan's independence.

However, Barrick Gold's manager on site Colonel Sher Khan blamed the state killings as infighting among Baluch nationalists over an alleged ransom.

Since Pakistan is a rogue state, after the killing of the three by the Pakistani intelligence the Pakistani federal government said it was clueless about the killers and interior minister Rehman Malik announced a reward for information about the killers.

Baluchistan officials are surprised how an internationally reputed Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars has accepted a man of dubious background on its council.

In spring this year, another US think-tank World Affairs Council of Western Michigan had invited former Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf to speak at its annual event while the Middle East Institute, led by former US ambassador Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin had offered a job to the Pakistani dictator.

"All this is terrible," said American Friends of Baluchistan presiding council members Rasheed Baloch and Mohammed Ali Baloch. "It is true the US is in economic crisis, but this does not mean prestigious bodies like Woodrow Wilson Center and Middle East Institute should entertain white-collar criminals and dictators."

In a phone call, Lakhani insisted he no longer has anything to do with Barrick Gold Corporation as he quit his chairman position of its subsidiary Tethyan Copper Company of Pakistan in June 2006.

The Baluch in Canada are also planning massive protests against Barrick Gold Corporation in Toronto.