Monday, January 31, 2022
ISLAMABAD: PPP leader and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani has stepped down as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate after his absence led to the passage of the State Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the Upper House of the Parliament.
"I have submitted my resignation to my party; I do not want to to be the Opposition leader anymore," Gillani said while addressing on the floor of the Senate.
During the session, 12 members were absent, including eight members of the Opposition, two of the government, and two from independent candidate Dilawar Khan’s group.
Gillani said his staff received the agenda of the January 28 Senate session at 11:30pm on January 27, while he had obtained it almost two hours later at 1am.
"It was not appropriate to add the bill to the agenda late night."
"This was such an important agenda; we should have been given more time to mull over it. The House is taken into confidence over such important matters related to the national interest, but unfortunately, this wasn't the case," he said.
The PPP Senator said the bill was not sent to the relevant standing committee, as he highlighted that bills are debated over in the committees — and as a result, lawmakers reach consensus over a matter.
Gillani said speakers and chairman are the representatives and custodians of the House. Therefore, the role of these officers should be unbiased, the PPP leader said.
"The chairman suspended the Senate session for [a mere 30 minutes]. You facilitated the government, not the Opposition," Gillani told Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani.
Gillani said it would be an honour for him if the ministers present in the House would have said that his absence led to the passage of the government's bill, but "turncoats" were blaming him.
"The 'turncoats' who leave a party for another are claiming that I helped the government," he said, referring to federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Fawad Chaudhry.
"While it is not me who should be receiving the credit, it is chairman Senate. Rigging is taking place [in front of him] when it should not happen," he said.
Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani had in March 2021 notified Senator Gilani as Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House after the PPP nominated him for the slot with the support of 30 lawmakers.
Responding to his resignation, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari or the party's co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, should resign instead of a "decent" Gillani.
The information minister said senior leadership of PPP and PML-N was both "embarrassed and ashamed" of its party leadership. "However, the [change of attitude] in these parties is a positive development."
The Senate on Friday passed the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 amid an outcry from the Opposition on suffering back-to-back defeats in the house, where it otherwise enjoys a dominating numerical strength.
When Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin tabled a motion seeking permission to introduce the SBP bill, the Opposition members objected to it.
A motion was put forth to vote through division and was carried by 44 against 43 votes, marking the first blow to the opposition in the day. The bill was passed by a majority vote as the Opposition kept on expressing its reservations.
On January 13, the National Assembly passed the SBP autonomy bill along with the supplementary finance bill — both these bills were a requirement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
The approval of the State Bank amendment bill was necessary to ensure Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFE) gets cleared by the IMF’s Executive Board which is scheduled to meet on February 2 to decide the disbursement of the $1-billion tranche.