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February 19, 2019

Chairman slots of 10 NA standing committees still vacant


February 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The posts of chairmen of 10 standing committees of the National Assembly are yet to be filled while the election of chairmen of twenty-four House bodies has been completed with consensus.

These posts are vacant for committees on Cabinet Secretariat, Communications, Energy, Human Rights, Information Technology and Telecommunication, Postal Services, Planning, Development and Reform, States and Frontier Regions and Statistics and Water Resources.

A parliamentary source told The News that the unanimous election of the chairmen of ten committees will conclude during the current week.

He said the slots of these chairmen would be apportioned among the parliamentary parties as per the agreement reached between the ruling coalition and opposition parties.

Since the creation of the present National Assembly in August last year, its committee system has been non-functional due to government-opposition tussle as neither the House bodies could be constituted nor could their heads be elected. Because of their nonexistence, no bill could be referred to them. Thus, no legislative business except the approval of the federal budget could be transacted.

The government says it has several bills ready that it wants to introduce in the National Assembly, but could not carry on its legislative agenda due to the lack of cooperation by the opposition. However, the other side contradicts this view and holds the government responsible for the state of affairs.

So far, the chairmen of twenty-four standing committees have been elected through consensus. Differences did not crop up in any election as the exercise was carried out with complete unanimity.

Until now, 8 chairmen each of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have been unanimously elected. Similarly, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has got 4 positions while the Muttahidda Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan (MMAP) has bagged two berths. The Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Balochistan National Party (BNP) have secured one berth each.

Of the PTI, Ms Munaza Hassan has been elected chairperson of the Climate Change, Amjad Ali Khan of the Defence, Faizullah of the Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Ehsanullah Tiwana of the Foreign Affairs, Najeeb Haroon of Housing & Works, Khurram Shahzad Nawaz of Interior, Riaz Fityana of Law & Justice, and Mujahid Ali of Parliamentary Affairs.

Likewise, the PML-N has clinched the chairmanships of Defence Production (Iftikhar Nazir), Federal Education & Professional Training (Mian Najeebuddin Awaisi), Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage (Mian Javed Latif), Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan (Rana Shamim Ahmed), National Food Security & Research (Rao Ajmal), Overseas Pakistan & Human Resource Development (Sheikh Fayazuddin), Railways (Mueen Wattoo) and Science & Technology (Sajid Mehdi).

The PPP leaders Naveed Qamar, Sajid Hussain Turi, Amer Magsi and Syed Mustafa Mahmud have been elected chairmen of Commerce & Textile, Industries & Production, Maritime Affairs and Privatization respectively.

The MMAP leaders Salahuddin Ayubi and Asad Mehmood (son of Maulana Fazlur Rehman) have become the chairmen of Narcotics Control and Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony respectively.

BNP’s Khalid Magsi has been elected the chairman of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. BNP’s Agha Hassan Baloch will head the Inter-Provincial Coordination.

Apart from these thirty-four House bodies, there are eight other committees. Barring one of them, the heads of other forums were nominated. Shahbaz Sharif was elected as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) long time ago.

Speaker Asad Qaisar heads the Special Committee of the Parliamentary Leaders in the National Assembly on Conduct, which is yet to hold even its maiden meeting. Dr Shirin Mazari chairs the parliamentary committee for Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak leads the Parliamentary Committee on the General Elections, 2018.

The Speaker also heads the House Business Advisory Committee. Malik Amir Dogar is the chairman of the Committee on Government Assurances. Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri is the chairman of the House and Library Committee. Rana Qasim Noon chairs the Committee on Rules of Procedure & Privileges.

It is established that the standing committees play an important role of oversight and monitoring the working of the relevant ministries. It is stated that in the parliamentary democracies, the committees are regarded as eyes, ears, hands and even brain of the Parliament. Another saying about the importance of the committees is the “Congress in session is Congress in Exhibition, while Congress in its Committee Room is Congress at work”. The rules say there will be a standing committee of the National Assembly for each ministry. The committees examine bills referred to them by the House and submit its reports to it. Upon introduction, a bill other than a Finance Bill stands referred to the standing committee concerned with the subject matter of the bill.

The rules contain special provisions empowering the committees to examine the expenditures, administration, delegated legislations, public petitions and policies of the ministries concerned and their associated public bodies and may forward their findings and recommendations to the ministries, which will submit their reply to the committees.

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