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March 5, 2019

Opposition walks out after uproar over coveted PAC chairmanship


March 5, 2019

Opposition lawmakers walked out of the Sindh Assembly on Monday after vociferously protesting against the provincial government’s decision to not offer the chairmanship of the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to them and over the delay in the forming of the legislature’s standing committees.

PA opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who raised the issue on a point of order, warned that the protesters will keep boycotting the proceedings of the House until the government withdraws its decision regarding the PAC chairmanship.

MPAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance shouted slogans against the government, tore up the agenda’s copies and crowded the speaker’s rostrum. Before their walkout, the opposition was rebuked by PA Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, who condemned their attitude.

Two opposition members — one of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and the other of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan — neither participated in the protest nor walked out of the House.

Naqvi had earlier told the PA that even though the new legislature was formed in August last year, the standing committees are yet to be formed. He said that while talking to the media a day earlier, the chief minister had made it clear that the PAC chairmanship would not be given to the opposition.

The MPA said that if the CM’s statement was an official announcement, the opposition would be compelled to boycott the session of the House in protest.

Naqvi said that not offering the PAC chairmanship to the opposition negates the provisions of the Charter of Democracy (CoD), of which the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto was a signatory, adding that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) should honour the commitment of its leader whom they hold in high regard.

Durrani told him that the opposition’s demands about the PAC chairmanship and the standing committees contravene the PA’s Rules of Procedure that call for holding elections for choosing members and chairmen of the standing committees.

Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said that it was the PPP that had, after coming to power in 2008, established the tradition in the province that the chairmanship of some of the standing committees were given to the opposition in view of their proportionate representation in the legislature.

He said that this time round the government had offered the opposition the chairmanship of 14 standing committees, eight of which were related to the government departments for which the opposition had especially demanded.

He added that the government cannot alter the compositions of the standing committees as being demanded by the opposition because they are set in accordance with the PA’s Rules of Procedure.

As for the delay in the forming of the standing committees, he explained that it was because of the unjust and baseless demands of the opposition that cannot be met by the government. He reiterated the CM’s stance that the PTI should become a signatory to the CoD and agree to all of its provisions before demanding the PAC chairmanship.

He recalled that the PTI had earlier criticised the CoD and termed it an accord between two major political parties of the country to cover up their past misdeeds and corruption. Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh also censured the opposition’s attitude even when the government continues to engage them and hold negotiations on the issues raised by the opposition.

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