Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjarani on Tuesday administered oath to PML-N leader Ishaq Dar as a senator amid protest by the opposition lawmakers led by the PTI.

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 staff was called in.

Dar was elected to the Senate from the Punjab even he had been in self-imposed exile since October 2017.

He will swear in as finance minister today at 10am in a ceremony to be held at Aiwan-e-Sadar. President Arif Alvi will administer the oath.

SPEECH: Blaming the hundi and hawala businesses, Dar said that the rupee’s value has been kept low artificially, adding that such practices cannot hold the local currency hostage.

In a question-and-answer break during the Senate session, he said that the US dollar depreciated by around Rs10 since he landed in the country, claiming that one of the problems faced by the country is the artificial depreciation of the rupee.

“Inflation is also high,” he said listing the issues that the coalition government has to fix.

Referring to the winning streak of the rupee in the market, he said that the country’s debt reduced by Rs1,350 billion in less than 24 hours. He also stressed the need for amendments to the previous finance bill.

“I have returned to my country by the grace of God. I will try my best to pull Pakistan out of the [economic] maelstrom it is surrounded with,” Dar had said soon after landing in Pakistan.

He shared that PML-N President Nawaz Sharif and the PM have handed over the responsibility of the finance ministry to him.

“[We] pulled Pakistan out of an economic maelstrom back in 1998 and 2013,” the incoming finance minister said.

Dar has returned to “facilitate” the government in its efforts to resurrect the cash-strapped economy by taking over the key portfolio of the finance ministry.

DEBATE: Soon after the oath, Chairman Sanjrani opened the floor for discussions. Subsequently, Leader of the House Azam Nazeer 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 alleged 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 a plane 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.

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.

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