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March 15, 2019

Polls for PA’s standing committees likely on March 20


March 15, 2019

With no solution in the offing for the persisting deadlock over the chairmanship of the provincial Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Sindh government has decided to hold elections to constitute the Sindh Assembly’s standing committees. The elections are likely to be held on March 20 as per the Sindh Assembly’s rules of procedure.

The provincial government’s decision to hold the elections for the standing committees without reaching any agreement with the opposition benches was stated by Barrister Murtaza Wahab, the adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information and law, while he was talking to media persons on Thursday.

Wahab said the Sindh government had finally decided to go for polls to constitute the standing committees as its seven-month efforts to reach an understanding with the opposition on this issue had borne no fruit.

When the information adviser was asked if members of the opposition parties, in case no understanding was reached, would get the chairmanship of any committee as they lacked a majority in the House, the adviser commented that it was a point, which should better be pondered by the opposition benches as they would all emerge as losers after the polls due to their unwise policy to stick to their unjust demands regarding the formation of the committees.

He claimed that the provincial government had shown extraordinary magnanimity on the issue by offering to the opposition the chairmanship of 14 out of the total 34 standing committees that were to be formed.

Wahab said the government had also agreed to the opposition’s demand that eight of these 14 standing committees would be of the opposition’s own choice. He added that the government went out of its way and agreed to another demand that the composition of those 14 standing committees would be revised so that the opposition legislators would be in a majority in those committees, although there was no such provision in the assembly rules.

The information adviser went on to say that this time, the government had even offered the chairmanship of such standing committees to the opposition, which had never been given to the opposition before as they were related to important sectors of governance. For instance, he said, the standing committee on the local government department was offered to the opposition for the first time.

The opposition showed no regard to the generosity shown by the provincial government and stuck to their demand of getting the chairmanship of the PAC, Wahab lamented. He said the Pakistan Peoples Party had clearly stated its policy that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) should first fully agree to all the provisions of the Charter of Democracy and also sign it before demanding the headship of the provincial PAC.

According to Wahab, the PTI had been ruling in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and it did not offer the chairmanship of the PAC to the opposition benches there so the stance of its Sindh leadership that a treasury lawmaker could not hold the government accountable after becoming the PAC chairman was unjust.

He maintained that the performance of the Sindh Assembly in terms of holding sessions, having discussions on the issues of public importance and passing legislation had been far superior than the other legislatures in the country.

The Sindh chief minister attended the proceedings of the provincial assembly more than the prime minister and any other chief minister in the country, Wahab said. He censured the opposition for resorting to protests in the assembly. The opposition wanted to sabotage the routine agenda and proceedings of the assembly so that the House could not continue its outstanding performance, he said.

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