ISLAMABAD: The federal government has nominated the officers for the award of Hilal-i-Imtiaz, who contributed to the successful settlement of the billion-dollar Reko-Diq dispute, a legal contest between the government of Pakistan and Tethyan Copper Company (TCC).

The officers include Raja Naeem Akbar, federal Secretary for Law and Justice; Mr. Ahmed Irfan Aslam, former head of the International Dispute Unit; and Brig. Atif Rafique.The officers handled the Reko-Diq litigation and represented the Pakistani government in various legal forums, resulting in an out-of-court settlement that saved the national exchequer from significant financial losses. The President of Pakistan will confer upon them the Hilal-i-Imtiaz on Pakistan Day on March 23, 2024.

Raja Naeem Akbar, the Federal Law Secretary, effectively represented Pakistan in negotiations and litigation, ensuring fair, transparent, and beneficial settlement agreements for all parties involved. The Reko-Diq dispute settlement attracted the $10 billion in foreign investment, which was practically stuck for years. The proceedings also helped in introducing the necessary legislation required to give confidence to foreign investors and streamline all procedures.

The TCC had filed a case at the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) alleging that Pakistan unlawfully denied the TCC a lease to mine copper and gold deposits at the Reko Diq mine, breaching the Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard (FET) and breaching the Australia-Pakistan bilateral investment treaty. The ICSID awarded $5.976bn (Rs950 billion) in damages to TCC in 2019.

To enforce the $6bn award, TCC filed a case in the High Court of Justice in the British Virgin Islands and sought attachment of Pakistani assets belonging to Pakistan International Airlines Investment Ltd. (PIAIL). The British Virgin Islands High Court passed an order to attach some of PIAIL’s assets, including the company’s interests in two hotels and a 40% interest in Minhal Incorporated.

The Pakistan government formed a team to negotiate with TCC for an out-of-court settlement. In March 2022, Pakistan reached an out-of-court settlement with Barrick Gold for the revival and development of the Reko Diq project, resulting in $10 billion in investment and 8,000 job creation.