Archive for September, 2012

POL prices to go up by Rs 4/litre

ISLAMABAD – Petroleum Ministry has decided to determine the prices of petroleum products on weekly basis as a result of which per litre price of the commodity is likely to go up by Rs 3-4 in the country at the end of the current week.

Well-placed sources aware of the development informed TheNation that Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain has granted approval to comply with the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision on 7th August pertaining to determination of petroleum prices in the country.

With this decision, prices of petroleum products for the first time in the history of Pakistan, would be announced four times in a month.

Sources said on every Sunday per litre prices of petroleum products would be decided and announced for public information and interest as well.

It was also learnt that POL prices would also witness further hike upto Rs3-4 per liter from 10th September. Sources were of the view that this new practice of weekly price determination would add woes and worries to the poor masses already bearing the brunt of sky rocketing prices of petroleum products coupled with artificial shortage and over charging.

Taking decision to determine the prices of petroleum products on weekly basis, the Ministry of Petroleum has rejected the recommendations of a legislative panel of the National Assembly, working as a watchdog on the affairs of petroleum and natural resources to decide the prices on monthly basis instead of weekly basis by reviving the old system of pricing of petroleum products.

The panel with Tariq Khattak in chair on 8th August said the new mechanism would cause shortage of the commodity in market and observed that the ‘oil mafia’ in the country would be facilitated with the ECC decision. The panel further said that the oil mafia would earn tens of millions through hoarding and fluctuation in prices would cause more inflation in the country influencing the masses badly.

Even Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), oil marketing companies (OMCs) and refineries in the country had also opposed this weekly pricing of petroleum products on the ground that this decision would add insult to the injuries of hard-pressed consumers.

Official sources in Petroleum Ministry had said that weekly oil pricing mechanism would be introduced on trial basis for three months and a final decision either to continue with the weekly pricing mechanism or not would be taken in the light of the impact of the decision.

It is to note here that Dr Asim Hussain in 2009, prior to this decision, had put an end to the 15 days oil pricing mechanism initiated by Musharraf regime and had started monthly oil pricing mechanism in the country.

September 7, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Iran nuclear Program

Yes, the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran’s nuclear program is cause for concern. But President Obama must not allow Israel to drag the United States into a war with Iran.

Even if Iran builds a nuclear weapon, Israel can take care of itself. It has a robust nuclear deterrent. Any nuclear attack on Israel by Iran would be suicidal. With up to 300 nuclear warheads at its disposal, the Jewish state could turn the entire Islamic Republic into a smoldering cinder in a heartbeat.

Of course, such a nuclear exchange would be catastrophic for both sides, as well as for all of south Asia. But mutual assured destruction is what prevented the United States and the former Soviet Union from attacking each other during the Cold War. Because nuclear war is inconceivably terrible, it tends to focus leaders’ minds. That should be the case for the ayatollahs no less than for Americans and Russians.

Israel rightly views Iran’s nuclear weapons potential as an existential question. What the Israelis don’t say is that, given Israel’s nuclear arsenal, it is an existential question for Iran as well.

In other words, it is hard to believe that either side would risk its own existence by using nuclear weapons against the other.

Yes, Iran has made all kinds of statements about how the Jewish state must be destroyed. But would its leaders risk their own annihilation and that of their own country to accomplish that goal? Not likely.

So why would Iran seek nuclear weapons? Deterrence. Iran’s leaders want to make nuclear powers — the United States and Israel — think twice about any military action against Iran. Would the United States have invaded Iraq if Saddam Hussein had had nuclear weapons?

The latest IAEA report says that Iran has installed thousands of centrifuges for the concentration of nuclear fuel in a mountainside near the holy city of Qom. The facility is so deeply buried that it is doubtful that an Israeli air attack could destroy the equipment inside. Only the United States may have that capability.

The Israeli government argues that the window is quickly closing on the ability of even the United States to halt Iran’s nuclear program. The United States says there is still time for diplomacy and sanctions to work.

It is doubtful that even a U.S. air war could halt Iran’s program permanently. Only an invasion could do that. And invading Iran clearly is not in the national interest of the United States.

September 7, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Migrant boat sinks off Turkey, children among 60 dead

At least 60 migrants, most of them Palestinian and more than half of them children, have died after their overcrowded boat sank just tens of metres off Turkey’s western Aegean coast, a district official said.

Tahsin Kurtbeyoglu, governor of the coastal district of Menderes in Turkey’s western Izmir province, said an initial investigation showed the small vessel sank due to overcrowding around dawn.

Its destination was unclear but the small Turkish town of Ahmetbeyli from where it left is only a few kilometres from the Greek island of Samos. Greece is a common entry point for migrants trying to get into the European Union.

“The latest death toll we have is 60 people, including 11 men, 18 women and 31 children, including three babies,” Kurtbeyoglu told Reuters by telephone.

Turkish media said the reason the death toll was so high was because the women and children were in a locked compartment in the lower section of the vessel, although there was no official confirmation of this.

Kurtbeyoglu said 46 people had so far been rescued alive, including the ship’s Turkish captain and assistant, who had been placed under arrest. He said there were no bodies left on the boat and he did not expect the death toll to rise any further.

Most of the migrants were Palestinian nationals, and the authorities were still trying to determine the nationality of the others, Kurtbeyoglu said. He said the survivors spoke Arabic and were of Middle Eastern origin.

Turkish media said there were also Syrians and Iraqis on the boat, although that could also not be confirmed.

Turkey is sheltering about 80,000 Syrian refugees near its southeastern border with Syria, several hundred kilometres away on the other side of the country.

Television footage showed small boats and diving teams searching for survivors just off Ahmetbeyli. The boat sank less than 100 metres from the shore after leaving at around 02:30 GMT, officials said.

Turkey’s position as a bridge from Asia to Europe, as well as its wealth compared with neighbouring states, has long made it both a destination and a transit point for migrants from the Middle East and as far afield as Africa and South Asia.

The Greek island of Samos is clearly visible from Ahmetbeyli, which lies in a popular coastal region frequented by foreign and Turkish holiday makers.

About 130,000 immigrants cross Greece’s porous sea and land borders every year, the vast majority via Turkey.

Greece received more than 1,000 migrants by sea last year, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). Another 55,000 crossed the land border between Greece and Turkey at Evros, according to Greek government figures.

Greece opened its first purpose-built detention centre for illegal migrants in April, the first of about 50 camps that Greek officials have said will be built by mid-2013.

September 7, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

SM Krishna to head to Pakistan today for 3-day visit

New Delhi: External affairs Minister SM Krishna is headed to Pakistan on Friday for a three-day visit, days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Tehran on the sidelines of the NAM summit.

Both the Foreign Secretaries will meet on Friday to finalise the details of the agenda between Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, who will be meeting on Saturday.

The ministers will also co-chair a meeting of the Joint Commission, which is being revived after 7 years. Sources say terror will figure prominently but the highlight could well be the much delayed visa liberalisation pact.

“We don’t expect too much from my visit to Pakistan. It is only an intention of the Government of India and the people of India to have normal relations with our neighbour,” Krishna said.

September 7, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More