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March 10, 2019

Parties take diverse stands in picking up PAC heads


March 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary parties took different stands and followed diverse standards in picking chairmen of the federal and provincial Public Accounts Committees (PAC).

Their standpoints oscillated with the change of legislature, which reflected lack of consistency and political expediency and an attempt to humble the rivals.

Because of unending tussle, the issue of appointing the PAC chairman is still unresolved in the Sindh Assembly as the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is insistent not to concede the berth to the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is raising a lot of hue and cry over this obsessive refusal.

On the other hand, at the federal level, the PPP whole-heartedly supported the opposition nominee, Shahbaz Sharif, as the PAC chairman in the National Assembly, and threatened along with others to boycott all the House committees and to jam the House proceedings if he was not accorded this slot.

The PTI kept denying the office to Shahbaz Sharif, advancing various arguments. One of them was that as the PAC chairman he would not be able to carry out accountability of the dealings of the previous government of his own Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Finally, the PTI was compelled to bow before the unanimous demand of the opposition parties.

But conversely, the PTI named its own Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Speaker Mushtaq Ghani as the PAC chairman, which never happened before, to do the accountability of its own previous government. It snubbed the calls of the opposition parties including the PML-N and PPP to make one of their choices as the PAC head. It set aside its own argument that it had propounded at the central level that the representative of a party that ruled earlier could not properly and transparently examine the accounts of its outgoing government.

In Sindh, the PTI is hell-bent upon taking the slot of the PAC chairman in the provincial assembly for its leader of the opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi while the PPP is equally adamant on not giving in. The row has generated intense confrontation between the two parties with the result the Sindh Assembly frequently resounds with chants of protest.

In Punjab, the PTI, despite its reservations, agreed to elect leader of the opposition and PML-N stalwart Hamza Shahbaz as the PAC chief. There was not much ado about it as was witnessed at the federal level. After emergence of some voices opposing Hamza Shahbaz as the PAC chairman, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat categorically declared that the agreement with the PML-N would be strictly implemented as he did not want to trigger any tussle with the opposition.

In Balochistan, the process of nominating the PAC chairman has been absolutely hassle-free as the government and opposition agreed on Akhtar Hussain Langove belonging to the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M). While the BNP-M is part of the ruling coalition at the federal level, it continues to take independent stance on different issues. In the Balochistan Assembly, it is clubbed with the opposition parties.

Every ruling party enjoys majority in House committees of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. However, everywhere the government and opposition always arrive at agreements so that both sides have adequate representation in the House bodies to make the committee system work vibrantly and effectively.

To ensure full participation of the opposition parties in the parliamentary forums and trouble-free House proceedings, they are given not only the proper say in all the bodies but are also offered the offices of the chairmen of several committees on the basis of their strength in the respective legislatures.

Because of the agreement between the two sides beforehand, no election of chairman of any committee actually takes place and the whole process is carried out unanimously.

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