Pakistan earns millions from Afghan precious stones


KABUL (PAN): The smuggling of precious and semi-precious stones from Afghanistan earns Pakistan about $350 million annually, Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani informed lawmakers on Sunday. 

The Afghan government, on the other hand, received annual revenue of $300,000 from precious stones, the minister told the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house of parliament.

The industry offered jobs to 5,000 Afghans and 6,000 Pakistanis, he added. He alleged the neighbouring country processed the smuggled minerals and exported them as made-in-Pakistan products.

Shahrani said the extraction of oil and gas from the Amu River’s basin in northern Sar-i-Pul province would begin on November 19. The extraction process at a commercial scale will be for the first time Afghanistan.

The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) last year won a bid to develop the oil blocks. The first-ever oil and gas deal between the two nations will earn the landlocked country $7 billion over the next two decades and a half.

Shahrani said the deposits were estimated to contain 250 million barrels of oil. "With one barrel priced at $100, Afghanistan will earn approximately $7 billion in the next 25 years."

He said the Chinese company would extract 5,000 barrels of oil from the reserves on a daily basis in the beginning, but the level would later increase to 45,000 barrels.

Afghanistan and the foreign forces based in the country import $3.5 billion oil every year, he said. "Reliance on imports will decrease once extraction from the Amur river field gets under way."

The senators questioned Rural Rehabilitation and Development Minister Hassan Abdulhai about canalisation system in New Kabul Town, located in the Deh Sabz locality, and ill-planned cities in provinces.

Abdulhai asked the legislators to put the question to Afghanistan Water Supply and Canalisation Company officials. He said individuals constructed townships in provinces after permission from municipalities.


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