Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: June 2010

Real resource of Afganistan

The news that one to two trillion-dollar worth of minerals lie buried under the dusty and dreary soil of Afghanistan has made waves across the world. Eager resource extractors are eyeing Afghanistan with renewed interest. Iron, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium are among the many minerals that are said to lie embedded in Afghan soil. Geologists have known this for a long time and China has already put in place plans to dig up and carry away billions of dollars worth of copper.

Interestingly, so far it is the United States and western powers that have spent money providing security in Afghanistan, while it is the Chinese who have got their hands on Afghan copper. Perhaps that is the payoff to China for its implicit support to US occupation of Afghanistan. One must not put the cart before the horse. Afghanistan’s untapped wealth can only be put to good use, in the interests of the Afghan people, when peace and security return to this unfortunate land. Afghans have been denied peace and security not only by enemies within the country but enemies outside, especially Pakistan.
The world needs to invest in the well-being and educational and economic empowerment of Afgans so that they can tap into their own wealth. India is contributing in this regard and India’s investment in education, health, roads and railways in Afghanistan will help it tap its own human resources.
Unless the Afghan people are empowered, the discovery of natural resources can only be a curse, not a blessing.