Budgeting for petrol

The solar-powered plane which was going to cross the Pacific Ocean has not done so. That’s sort of symbolic, for it seems more that while the world is ready for solar power, solar power isn’t ready for the world. It seems the world is sick and tired of having to pay through the nose for petrol, and if the sun could be harnessed to move things, people would adopt it like a shot.
I mean, look at what happens when fuel prices collapse. Governments don’t seem to manage their finances. The secret, you see, is that government taxes on petroleum products depend on the fuel price, so if prices are coming down, then so are government revenues. If the country produces petrol, then falling prices have a much more direct impact. Like the 19th-century whalers, who made the oil who people burnt for light then. It’s almost as if the petroleum age is approaching its end, and we’re heading towards a new solar age. True, we’re very far from it, but we’ll get there slowly but surely. We haven’t reached it fast enough for federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented his third Budget this tenure, and had a difficult enough job. He almost seemed one of those old-time whalers. But he shouldn’t. He should leave that to the oil companies. True, they haven’t missed any of the targets announced in the Budget of the year before, but has anyone thought about what would happen to budget estimates if oil was not being used, imported or taxed?
We can only hope that Ishaq Dar is not still presenting the Budget. I don’t think the PTI will be presenting the Budget, because if ever elected, Imran Khan wouldn’t do something as mundane as present a Budget. He will stage a sit-in against the election, and call for a re-election. Look at KPK. The PTI won, as it should, being the party in office. But Imran has said there will be a re-poll if the ECP says so. Under Army supervision. In phases. It’s a wonder he got any bowling done without Army help. And what if there’re still objections? A third poll? I thought that was the point of democracy. An election on a set time, with the result accepted by everyone, no matter what it is. No “we’ll only accept if Imran is elected PM.’ That’s not election, but selection. Well, cricketers have selection committees, not parliamentary.
One place that should be happy when petroleum gives way to solar power should be Nigeria, even if it produces petroleum. There was a tanker crashing into a bus station in Onitsha in southern Nigeria, killing 70. No one blamed Boko Haram, though someone should have. I mean, the tanker (yes, a petrol tanker) crashed the day after there was a blast in Maiduguri’s meat market, killing 50. And that came After 50 people were killed in blasts there last weekend. Boko Haram also didn’t get blamed for the blast at the petrol pump in Accra, which killed 50. Now maybe Boko Haram was ruled out after somebody realized that Accra is in Ghana.
Well, Bilawal is in Pakistan after seven months, while Gen Raheel Sharif is in Sri Lanka. I hope he flies back without incident. Just as Bilawal’s return is supposed to be a sign of inner rumblings, I hope the Army is allowed to forget the last time a COAS flew back from Colombo.
But then, there was no BINB (Bhutan-India-Nepal-Bangladesh) developing, which is how Modi’s India wants development. Pointedly excluding Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka should enjoy its moment in the sun, because though the new President is pro-Indian, Sri Lanka has long worked with Pakistan to keep reminding India that it shouldn’t run roughshod over other members. After all, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that India could use terrorism against those using it. But what about Indian terrorism all over the place? Like in Baluchistan?
Maybe India needs other SAARC members for good harvests. Or maybe just their heads. A tribal was beheaded in Jharkand state, the head being buried to ensure a good harvest. Wouldn’t it be nice if SAARC members contributed those heads? We could all have a nice time, and Mian Nawaz could have his wish of peace with India. I wonder if Taslima Nasreen would go back? She moved to India from Bangladesh because her life was in danger, and now she is going to the USA, because she is feeling unsafe there too. Now why do I smell an elaborate migration scam?
Somehow, I suspect peace will be achieved with India solely because antisocial elements want to stop the ISI tapping phones, which it told the Supreme Court it had done to 26,940 in four months. Maybe someone should tell them that if they tapped those phones for the War on Terror, that the US Vice-President’s son died of brain cancer. Which can be caused by too much talking on the phone. That should be a warning to all those who think that American protection gives eternal life.

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