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November 21, 2018

Appointment of KP speaker as PAC chairman raises eyebrows

Peshawar

November 21, 2018

PESHAWAR: The appointment of Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani as chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has made the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s claim of fair accountability doubtful.

The opposition in the province is of the view that the Mushtaq Ghani-led and PTI-dominated PAC cannot do proper accountability of its own government.

However, Mushtaq Ghani had argued after being elected as speaker of the provincial assembly that he was now non-partisan and impartial being custodian of the House.

According to his version, his heading the PAC would not have any impact on the accountability process in presence of the members in the committee.

The PTI is reluctant to give the PAC chairmanship to the opposition in the federal government against the past traditions though the assembly rules of business do not bar such appointment. In the past mostly opposition leaders remained the PAC chairman.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) headed the PAC while Khurshid Shah of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was the committee chairman during PML-N government.

However, the incumbent PTI government has categorically refused to appoint the opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif as chairman Public Accounts Committee arguing he may not make fair accountability of the previous government of his party.

Like the centre, the ruling PTI wants its own members to head the PACs in the provinces pf Punjab and KP that are directly under its rule.

In KP, the speaker has been named the chairman of the committee. Headed by Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, the 11-member PAC has six members from the government and four from the opposition, which has made the government’s position stronger.

With such a committee the PTI claim of fair and impartial accountability of the past government would become doubtful because the PTI ruled KP for five years and is again in power in the province for the second consecutive term.

Mushtaq Ghani remained minister in the previous setup and was among the close cabinet colleagues of the then chief minister Pervez Khattak.

He was elected speaker in the party’s second term. He is still among the senior leaders of the party even though constitutionally the speaker is supposed to be impartial after his election as custodian of the House.

However, political observers opined that he may not be able to do proper accountability of the government in which he served as minister.

It has created doubts that how a person who remained part of the government would make it accountable. The imbalance of members between the treasury and opposition in the PAC is another point worth pondering as the government has a clear majority in it.

Besides Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, Finance Minister Taimoor Salim Jhagra, Muhammad Idrees, Arbab Waseem, Babar Salim Swati, Sumaira Shams and Fakhre Jehan are from the government side while Inayatullah Khan, Faisal Zaib, Ahmad Kundi and Sobia Shahid belong to the opposition.

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