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A game changer or a PR spin?

Zafar Anjum | June 17, 2010
Reporting the finding of a humungous US$1 trillion worth mineral deposits, a recent New York Times article said Afghanistan could become Saudi Arabia of Lithium. One wonders if the timing of the report has more to do with the floundering war on terror in Afghanistan than with the poor countrys rich fortunes.

At the time of writing, the internet is agog with two kinds of speculations: one, either this is a spin to shore up public support for the floundering war in Afghanistan (by diverting opinion from military loss to lithium) or is aimed at attracting international interest in the (Afghan) mining sector before the auction in the next few weeks of the 1.8 billion-tonne iron-ore field in Hajigak, which could be worth US$5 billion to US$6 billion.  Jim Lobe writes at Asia Times: Afghan and Western officials want more companies to bid for Hajigak and other deposits to prevent China from gaining control over Afghanistans natural resources through bids subsidised heavily by Beijing.

So, there goes the great game again, but let us not go into all that here.

If the lithium find is a game changer in the Afghan strategy, it augurs well for the countryat least it will pump up the GDP of the country and bring some jobs to the poor Afghans. Given the corruption and nepotism in Afghanistan, Jean though is pessimistic about this prospect. She says: If history is any gauge, then the same problems that have kept them mired in war and misery for so long poor governance, corruption and the less-than-tender attention of the world community in general and their close neighbours in particular will more than likely plague them again and the people will just shrug and add the theft of their national treasure to their endless list of grievances.

But I am hoping for the better (frankly, how worse could it get?). At least, exporting lithium is better than exporting opium. And terror. Any day.

Zafar Anjum, online editor of MIS Asia dot com, covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, outsourcing and telecommunications, among other areas of interest for FBM Asia publications. Follow MIS Asia on Twitter at @MIS Asia or follow Zafar on Twitter at @zafaranjum or subscribe to MIS Asia RSS feeds. Zafars e-mail address is zanjum@fairfaxbm.com. 

 

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