Too early to celebrate
The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan or the Taliban as they are more commonly known, signed a peace deal last week. Under the new deal which comes after months of back and forth, the US will eventually reduce its troops in Afghanistan and the Taliban, in return promised to reduce widespread bloodshed across the country.
The agreement tells us a lot about both sides. By signing the deal, both sides officially acknowledged that they were equally exhausted and frustrated with the unending conflict that has not yielded any results other than the mounting casualties. It also tells us that all along Pakistan made a very valid case for a dialogue to resolve the conflict. Perhaps now is the time for the US to pay more attention to the advice offered by reliable allies like Pakistan. It would have not only saved the trillions wasted on war but also prevented the loss of innocent lives who will forever be known as casualties of an unnecessary war. But who can tell the Americans that they were wrong? The only superpower used brute force against an army of street militants only to sign a peace deal with them after blowing all the state-of-the-art ammunition in the battlefield for two decades.
If only they learned lessons. American military misadventures would have ended after Vietnam. As far as the peace deal is concerned, it only appears to be the first step toward ultimate peace in the war-torn country. There is reason to celebrate the American surrender but it is too early to say this peace deal will allow Afghanistan to function as a peaceful nation.
Signs of disruption are already surfacing. The Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul has already presented the first spoiler and there are many more to come over the next 14 months. The complex situation in Afghanistan needs a domestic solution that is owned by domestic stakeholders. Ghani and his planted coterie outsiders, who have no real legitimacy will eventually have to step aside. But before they do, they will create every possible hurdle to cling on to whatever limited power they have.
A modicum of relief
The latest slash in petrol prices was widely expected. The government
announced the Rs5 per litre relief for petroleum consumers for the month of March on Saturday after the international crude oil prices witnessed a downward trend due to slump in demand. The Brent also fell by $0.86 per barrel and was trading at $50.50 per barrel after coronavirus deaths and cases increased across the globe. The new prices in Pakistan took effect on Sunday, March 1.
Although quite modest, the rate cut will certainly provide a modicum of relief to consumers, harried as they are by rising inflation and dismal livelihood prospects. A notification issued by the finance ministry stated that the prices of petrol and high speed diesel (HSD) were reduced by Rs5 per litre, while kerosene oil and light diesel oil (LDO) have been cut down by Rs7 per litre.
Petrol will now be sold at RsRs111.60 per litre against Rs116.60, while HSD will be available at Rs122.26 against the earlier price of Rs127.26 per litre. The rate of kerosene oil has been reduced to Rs92.45 from Rs99.45 per litre registering a reduction of Rs7 per litre, while the light diesel oil (LDO) witnessed a decline of Rs7 per litre from Rs84.51 to Rs77.51 per litre.
As reported in this paper, Prime Minister Imran Khan did not adhere to the advice of the finance ministry and issued the orders for lowering the prices of petroleum products. It is reported that the finance ministry and IMF wanted the government to raise the prices of petrol, gas and electricity. Premier Imran, however, said he would take whatever steps were required for lowering the prices of commodities and would end inflation in the country. If that is the resolve, it needs all-round applause.
Teaching road safety