Chaghi Youth addressing a press conference: Photo provided by the author

Riaz Baloch:

DALBANDIN: At a press conference held at the Dalbandin Press Club, a group of educated youth from Chaghi District, led by Agha Waseem Shah, Nimat Baloch, Comrade Qadir Baloch, Arslan Hameed, Tariq Shah, Kaleemullah Andal, Wahab Shafqat, Naz Asadullah, Hosni Arif Baloch, Muawiya Baloch, Tahir Baloch, Abdul Malik, Abdullah, and Ziaur Rahman, expressed strong discontent over recruitment practices for the Reko Diq gold mining project.

Chaghi, known for its significant gold reserves, hosts two major projects: Sendak and Reko Diq. The local youth, who had high hopes for employment opportunities from these projects, are now protesting what they term the “robbery of their rights” in the Reko Diq project.

Protestors highlighted that despite the commencement of work at Reko Diq, qualified local youth are being overlooked in favor of non-locals. This exclusion contradicts the initial promises made by project management.

They emphasized the dire economic conditions in Chagai and Balochistan, noting the region’s extreme poverty and unemployment. The Sendak and Reko Diq projects are seen as the only viable sources of livelihood. However, local applications for various positions have consistently been ignored.

The group cited instances where local candidates, despite meeting qualifications, were not shortlisted or called for interviews. Recent hiring at the Indus Hospital in Nokundi, funded by Reko Diq, did not consider a single local pharmacy degree holder for pharmacist positions.

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandates prioritizing local employment, yet Reko Diq management is flouting this principle,” stated Agha Waseem Shah. He referenced Pakistan’s Citizenship Act (Son of Soil), which underscores employing locals in projects extracting local resources. The recruitment of non-indigenous individuals violates these laws and principles.

The speakers condemned these practices as a betrayal of Chagai’s educated youth and called on elected representatives, relevant officers, and project management to rectify the situation. They demanded the cancellation of non-local appointments and insisted that local candidates be given preference.

“If our demands are not met, we will not hesitate to take our protest to every forum available,” warned Nimat Baloch.

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.