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ISLAMABAD: Fearing stiff resistance in the upper house of Parliament against the controversial State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021, treasury members in the Senate, with support from Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, are in backdoor contacts with some opposition senators in a bid to secure a simple majority for the passage of this bill.

Sanjrani has directly approached some opposition senators in a bid to win their support over the bill, Business Recorder has learnt.

A group of six independents senators led by Dilawar Khan has assured the government’s side of their support to the bill, it is further learnt.

Khan enjoys close association with Senate chief, according to sources.

In March this year, his group supported Yousaf Raza Gilani’s candidature for Senate opposition leader’s slot on the behest of chairman Senate, insiders say.

The government requires a simple majority of those members present in the House at the time of voting. But if the full House is present when voting takes place then at least 50 (out of 99) votes would be required to attain a simple majority to pass the bill.

“There are opposition members who cannot support this bill openly. But it is likely that they would not show up at the voting stage – and thereby allow treasury members to outnumber opposition senators— to pass the bill,” the source said, adding that all government senators have been instructed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the upcoming Senate session expected to be summoned soon to take up SBP (Amendment Bill 2021).

In the 100-member Senate whose present strength is 99, excluding Ishaq Dar, government has 47 members against 52 members of opposition.

Former chairman Senate Nayyar Bukhari from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) told this correspondent that opposition forces have already made it clear that they would strongly resist this bill. “We cannot allow this bill to pass. By trying to get this bill passed, the government wants SBP to be mortgaged to IMF (International Monetary Fund). SBP would be answerable to International Monetary Fund (IMF) instead of Pakistani federal government if this bill is passed.

We will not let that happen and PPP is standing shoulder to shoulder with other opposition parties for this purpose,” he told Business Recorder.

PML-N Senator Musadik Malik said N-League would resist this bill both in National Assembly as well as Senate. “The joint opposition would not let any legislative draft pass through the Parliament that is against the interest of Pakistan,” he added.

Previously, government’s allies including Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) had reservations over the bill but they have expressed a willingness to support the bill after meeting the PM, a treasury senator told Business Reorder.

This correspondent tried to approach the Senate chief on his cell phone for his comments but he did not respond till the filing of this report.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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