Petrol bomb defused – Govt gives in to the people

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced the withdrawal of the recent increase in petroleum prices, reverting them to the values as on December 31.Following the reversion, petrol will be sold at Rs 72.96 per litre, HOBC at Rs 86.67 per litre, HSD Rs 78.33 per litre, and Kerosene Oil at Rs 70.95 per litre.This was the second successive retreat by the lame duck government on economic issues due to immense pressure by its coalition partners and opposition parties.According to economic pundits, the withdrawal may cause the government to suffer a loss of Rs 5 billion in this month while the government has already absorbed losses worth Rs 1.5 billion during the past month. Parliament proved its authority for the first time, reflecting that political parties were not sincere in their commitments on drone issues and terrorism as none of the recommendations by Raza Rabbani-led national security committee were implemented by the government. Moreover, parliament’s recommendations on Balochistan are also yet to be implemented.

“The prices were increased on the recommendations of OGRA and in view of the raise in (petroleum) prices in the international market. Considering public interest and suggestion of the political leadership, I announce the restoration of petroleum prices as on October 31,” the prime minister said.Gilani admitted that the treasury was under a great pressure from the political parties, its coalition partners and the civil society to withdraw the increase. He said it was a rather impossible ask, which was made possible only due to a consensus of all political players. He said the parliamentary committee would also review fluctuation in the petroleum prices in the international market on a regular basis and its job was not limited to this particular decision.“I want to take the nation into confidence that we asked all the parliamentary leaders to meet today (Thursday) to chalk out a strategy. The minister for finance, along with his team, briefed the meeting and took all parliamentary leaders into confidence on the country’s economic situation and the increase in petroleum prices,” he added.Gilani praised the country’s political leadership for showing sagacity over the issue. Hailing the government’s announcement, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said whenever the situation aggravated, saner council within the government led by the prime minister himself, prevailed upon and helped resolved the issues.

“This has been become almost a tradition of this parliament that whenever the situation aggravates, saner elements come forth and the government retracts from a disaster. Today, once again the prime minister has bowed to the voice of the parliament which is a good sign,” he added.Nisar urged the government to pay heed to resolving another issue of immense public interest, the massive gas load shedding.He also lauded ANP chief Asfandyar Wali for reaching out to the opposition and coalition parties to resolve the issue, which could have taken a negative turn, if not handled carefully.US opposes reversal: Meanwhile, the US signaled its opposition to the government’s reversal of fuel price hikes, AFP reported. “What we’ve said all along is that the reforms that the government of Pakistan is undertaking are difficult, but they’re important for its long-term economic stability,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said – PT