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Pakistan

PPP's Yousuf Raza Gilani resigns as Senate opposition leader

  • Says he did not receive agenda regarding SBP bill on time
Published January 31, 2022
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Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Yousuf Raza Gilani has resigned as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Aaj News reported on Monday, a development that comes after a nervy session that saw the Upper House of Parliament pass the crucial State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) (Amendment) Bill.

"I have sent my resignation to my party," he said while speaking during the session on Monday.

Gilani also accused Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani of supporting the government, saying it was not appropriate to issue the session's agenda "in the middle of the night."

“A chairman is believed to be custodian of the house, not the government,” he said, adding that “he [Sadiq Sanjrani] should have remained neutral during the voting process”.

He further said that Senate Chairman should not have voted in support of the bill. “This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that Chairman Senate has voted,” he claimed.

The PPP leader said that the session's agenda was not even sent to the relevant standing committee, adding that this had been a democratic norm.

Responding to criticism that he helped the government by not being present in the session, Gilani said: “It is being said that I supported the government on this issue…I have resigned [as Senate opposition leader] over the matter.

"I am not astonished by the harsh words from my opponents, but I am astonished by the silence of my well-wishers," he said, sharing his view regarding criticism from some leaders belonging to the opposition.

"If ministers had criticised me [over the issue], it would have been an honour. But some turncoats are saying that I helped the government and I am saying that [the government] won because of your votes."

It is important to note that Gilani was among the opposition senators who had skipped last week's important Senate session. Many raised eyebrows on the move, especially since the SBP bill passed by a margin of one vote.

The development allowed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to get the crucial State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill passed from the opposition-controlled house.

Ahead of IMF's 6th review, Senate approves SBP (Amendment) Bill, 2021

The bill's approval from the Senate meets the last key condition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme ahead of the sixth review that is set to take place on February 2.

The SBP (Amendment) Bill 2021 has been a source of major debate in recent weeks with the opposition claiming that it will hand over powers of the central bank over to the IMF.

However, in its response, the government has maintained that it will "retain control" of the SBP.

Earlier, in its bid to secure the next tranche of the IMF's Extended Fund Facility (EFF), the government also passed the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, known more commonly as the 'mini-budget', that withdraws sales tax exemptions to the tune of Rs343 billion.

While the government managed to enforce the Finance (Supplementary) Act, 2022 from January 16, 2022, it was the SBP (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that needed Senate approval.

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