South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Experts closely watching Indian interest in Thar Coal
Waqar Ahmed

Pakistani government officials and those connected with security issues are closely watching the growing Indian interest in the Thar coal.
The sources said the CEO of a Pakistani company was deliberating with Indian companies to sell Pakistani coal to India for their projects in Gujarat and Naveli Tamil Nadu. They said that Indian Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Counsellor at Islamabad was facilitating the Indian based companies for striking a deal between the local Pakistani company and TATA & BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited).

According to officials at the Pakistani company, they were consulting the Indian companies for technology transfers to conduct open cast mining of Thar Coal. In this connection, a Pakistani team comprising 20 legislators, including the daughter of a political personality, had visited India in July 2012 and discussed the possibilities of cooperation on the Thar Coal Project.

However, officials and security experts fear that the way the project is being handled, there were chances that its fate could be no different from the Reko Diq. Hidden powerful hands are involved in the multi-billon dollar project, they said adding that Pakistanis should be handling the significant project themselves.

“There should definitely be trade with India but all security concerns and interests should be taken into account,” an official here in the federal capital said. Meanwhile, some officials at the concerned ministry believe that the Thar Coal project should preferably be developed by Pakistani experts. They have identified two experts, Major Gen (Retd) Pervez Akmal, Corps of Engineers, and Dr Shahid Muneer, Professor and Director of Centre for Coal Technology, for the sensitive task.

“These experienced officials, one of who is already working to develop an institutional model for Thar Coal, are most suitable for the job,” add ed the officials.