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Senate committee demanded resignation of finance minister

22 September, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Thursday demanded the resignation of the finance minister. “The committee recommends that Finance Minster Ishaq Dar step down to save the country’s name from being defamed further,” announced chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance Saleem Mandviwala.

He said the current situation would eventually lead to eroding of investors’ trust in the country, adding that he had received a telephone call from China asking if arrest warrants were issued for Finance Minister Dar.

The Senate committee recommended the finance minister’s resignation in the absence of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senators Ayesha Raza and Saud Majeed.

After a brief discussion at the request of officials of the finance ministry for an in-camera briefing, the senators noted that the finance minister had not been attending the committee’s meetings for a long time.

Senator Mohshin Aziz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf suggested that the committee ask the finance minister to immediately resign in the wake of serious charges and issuance of arrest warrants for him by an accountability court.

Secretary Finance Shahid Mehmood tried to save the minister from a formal decision by the committee on his resignation. He requested Senator Mandviwala to hold the committee’s recommendations till he spoke to Mr Dar and informed him about the development.

Senator Fateh Mohammad Hassani of the Pakistan Peoples Party spoke in favour of the proposal and said he would personally advise the finance minister to resign and save the whole system form defamation, “till the matter is cleared from the courts”.

He said it was the responsibility of the committee to take a right decision in the current situation to safeguard the system and the image of the country that was being tarnished due to news appearing daily about misconduct of the finance minister.

The only disagreement over the recommendation came from Senator Ilyas Bilour of the Awami National Party who said the committee should wait and not take any decision in this regard, but he too softened his stance a few minutes later.

“Yes, I understand that the only respectable option for the finance minister is to resign. But I still maintain that Senator Dar is an intelligent person — he is not a child, he is our colleague, he can understand the situation, so we should not forward this proposal calling for his resignation,” he added.

Senator Bilour also said: “Miftah Ismail, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs, will be made an adviser to the PM and he will replace Ishaq Dar.”

Senator Mohsin Leghari, who came late, did not make any comment on the proposal seeking the finance minister’s resignation.

Talking to reporters after the committee’s meeting, Senator Bilour said it was a political demand, and not a technical proposal. “Though it was a tradition by the PML-N leadership that they called for resignation of PPP leaders when they were facing court cases, I still said that this matter [call for Mr Dar’s resignation] should have been made in the house [Senate],” he added.

On the other hand, Senator Mandviwala insisted that it was not a political decision because the finance ministry dealt with global issues, including the IMF, foreign investors and regulators.

“I have just received an SMS [short message service] from a local investor who had a query from the US about money laundering charges against Dar sahib,” he said, adding: “His [Mr Dar] warrants are being issued and he is facing allegation of corruption and money laundering, but if he is not the finance minister, then only the name of Ishaq Dar will appear, and not the finance minister.”

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