SARDAR SIKANDER SHAHEEN
ISLAMABAD: Ishaq Dar finally took oath as senator on Tuesday —more than four-and-a-half years since his election to the upper house of Parliament in March 2018—in the midst of hullabaloo stirred by opposition’s massive protest against Dar’s elevation.
The house plunged into panic soon after the start of the second sitting of the ongoing Senate session.
Moments after the sitting started, Behramand Tangi from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) requested Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani to be given the floor to take up an issue concerning Jinnah College Peshawar.
Sanjrani allowed him to speak but the senator’s speech was interrupted when Dar entered the Senate hall and the opposition went into a frenzy.
The tension further escalated after Sanjrani announced that he was about to administer oath to Dar.
Led by Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem, the opposition senators encircled Sanjrani’s desk and resorted to massive sloganeering.
“Chor…chor (thief, thief)” were among the verbal attacks launched by the charged opposition senators against Dar during his oath-taking.
The opposition senators held placards carrying anti-government slogans, slamming Dar’s elevation as senator.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, the chairman Senate called the Senate’s security personnel twice—to main order in the house.
Sanjrani also kept pleading to the opposition senators—those of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in particular, to settle in their seats but to no avail.
“He (Dar) has served this house as leader of the house and opposition leader. You need to show some respect (towards him),” Sanjrani kept pleading to the opposition senators.
The protest somewhat subsided after Dar finally took his oath. He was congratulated by Sanjrani and treasury senators.
“This is not the scene in this house we are accustomed to—this house welcomes new members. The members of this house should uphold its sanctity—don’t violate the sanctity of the house—if this trend does not stop, then nobody would be safe—nobody is clean,” said Leader of the House and Law Minister Azam Tarar, speaking on the floor of the house.
The opposition leader responded on a bitter note. “The leader of the house is right—the sanctity of this house needs to be upheld. But this sanctity is derived from the traditions of this house. And there is no tradition that a person who was elected senator more than four years ago—absconded from this country—contested Senate election while being abroad—is coming backing now to take oath,” Waseem said.
“He (Dar) did not even surrender to the courts. He landed in Pakistan yesterday and directly came here today to take oath. As if this house has no respect. The courts might be respectable but this house has its own respect. This is no way. A person who made mockery of this house is here to take oath,” the PTI senator deplored.
In the same vein, he continued, “He (Dar) previously destroyed Pakistan’s economy and absconded—he is here is to become finance minister again,” the legislator added.
Tarar responded that Dar took bail from the court till October 7. He said that President of Pakistan Arif Alvi and former prime minister Imran Khan were declared absconders by the courts on different occasions and had to take bails.
Earlier, Dar arrived at the Parliament House along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Tarar, the Law Minister. He held a brief meeting with the chairman Senate in the latter’s chamber shortly before the Senate session began.
Speaking to the media at the Parliament House before taking oath, Dar said the value of rupee was artificially depreciated. This, he said, has turned out to be a major problem for Pakistan’s economy.
He hoped that Pakistan’s economy would improve in the days ahead. “We landed here last night and the value of rupee against dollar has strengthened by 10 rupees—hopefully things will improve,’ he said, adding that the overnight improvement in the value of rupee against dollar resulted in the reduction of Rs 1,350 billion in Pakistan’s total debt.
The house will meet again on Friday.