ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Thursday conceded the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, almost three months after a stalemate over the key position.
The PTI government had long stuck to its stance that the opposition should come up with any name other than Shehbaz Sharif for the chairmanship, but the opposition was of the view that past traditions of the National Assembly should be honoured.
However, the breakthrough came after Federal Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan met with Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif in his chambers earlier today.
It was decided in the meeting that Shehbaz would chair the committee, while a subcommittee would be constituted comprising of PTI parliamentarians to take up audit paras relating to the PML-N government and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.
When asked by Geo News, Khattak confirmed the decision saying it was taken in the best interest to allow the House to continue functioning.
Decision taken in ‘larger interest of democracy’
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the National Assembly that Prime Minister Imran Khan was allowing the opposition to nominate the PAC chairman in the larger interest of democracy and parliamentary norms.
Speaking on the floor of the House, Qureshi said the government had left the decision to the opposition leader to nominate a person of his choice for the position. If, however, the opposition leader chose to nominate himself for the role then the government would not object, the foreign minister had added.
The constitution of House committees was a very important matter for the parliament in order to function effectively, Qureshi had said.
The foreign minister had pointed out that the opposition leader was embroiled in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases. These cases were not filed by the incumbent government; NAB had nothing to do with the House, Qureshi had told the National Assembly.
Referring to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, the foreign minister had said that requesting production orders for an MNA remained a due right of the opposition and the government respected that.
Shehbaz, speaking on the floor, had welcomed the gesture by the government to leave the choice of nominating PAC chairman with the opposition. This step would promote democratic norms and traditions and further solidify the institution of parliament, he had added.
Criticising the role of NAB, the PML-N president had said it was clear that the anti-corruption watchdog was highly selective in its accountability process, and that it would not be able to prove even a penny’s worth of corruption against him.