Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjarani on Tuesday administered oath to senior PML-N leader Ishaq Dar as a senator amid protest by opposition lawmakers led by the PTI.
The session began with the recitation of the Holy Quran after which Dar was sworn in.
During the ceremony, PTI senators gathered near the rostrum and chanted slogans such as “bhagora (absconder)”. Some of the opposition senators were also carrying placards and posters. A flustered Sanjrani repeatedly exhorted the rowdy senators to return to their seats but they refused to do so after which the security personnel was called in.
Soon after the oath, the chairman opened the floor for discussions. Subsequently, Leader of the House Azam Nazir Tarar welcomed Dar and hoped that he would serve the country, as he had done in the past.
Addressing the opposition, Tarar said: “We have always taken care of the sanctity of this house and we have always shown respect”.
“The laws and Constitution are applicable to everyone […] your reservations are your personal ones,” he added.
However, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem said that the tradition of the house had never been that a “man absconds and comes back”. “His seat is empty for four years. An ordinance is introduced only to protect him.”
The PTI senator went on to allege that the prime minister helped Dar escape. “According to my information, he (Dar) has not surrendered before the court; he has come straight to the Senate. Does the Senate not have any respect? Absconders come and go […]”
They, Shahzad contended, came in an aeroplane that was paid for by taxpayers, adding that the person accused of “ruining the economy” was being brought in again.
Countering the opposition’s remarks, Tarar said that in Dar’s case, a petition was filed, which was adjourned till October 7. “You have the right to criticise but don’t warp fact,” he concluded.
Talking to reporters before the oath, Dar claimed that the value of the rupee had depreciated artificially, which he said was a big problem.
“We reached here last night and an Rs10 impact is already visible which means Rs1350b of debt on the nation has been reduced as of now,” he added.
Earlier, Dar met Sanjrani in the chairman’s chamber as the leaders discussed political matters. He was accompanied by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, DawnNewsTV reported.
Imran claims Dar has returned through a deal
Separately, PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, at a convention in Peshawar today, alleged that Dar returned to Pakistan under an “NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance)”.
Dar, he claimed, was summoned by the National Accountability Bureau and asked about his properties. “Instead of giving a response, he fled in the prime minister’s airplane when the party was in power.
“He has returned to Pakistan today and is going to become the finance minister,” Imran said. “So this means that you are handing over the country’s money to a man who has been an absconder for the last five years.”
Dar said he was ill […] no, he was just scared and now he has come back through a deal, the PTI chairman said.
“We are unfortunate that our system of justice could not stop him, and neither did the people who are the protectors of the country,” he said.
“But PTI and Imran Khan will stop Dar’s way,” the PTI leader promised.
Dar returns after six years in self-exile
Dar landed at the Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi last night alongside Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take charge of the finance portfolio, which he has previously held on three occasions.
Talking to reporters at the airbase, he said: “I will try my best to fulfil all the responsibilities. We will try to take the country out of the economic swamp it is stuck in […] the way we did in 1998-1999 and 2013-2014.”
Dar is expected to be sworn in as the finance minister as well, sources told Dawn. Earlier in the day, former finance minister Miftah Ismail formally tendered his resignation to the prime minister.
The change of command at the Ministry of Finance comes during a dark time for the country’s economy, which is hounded by fears of default after being hit by unprecedented currency devaluation and devastating floods.