PML-N mulls over boycotting parliamentary standing committees

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–PTI leaders in cabinet share conflicting opinions over Shehbaz as PAC chairman

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided that it will withdraw its members from all standing committees in the parliament in case it fails to gain chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PML-N members will not be a part of any committee then including the standing committees, according to reports that quoted the party’s inside sources.

A senior PML-N leader, while talking to a local media outlet, said the party could refuse to accept the chairmanship of all the standing committees in the National Assembly if the PTI-led government opted to “exercise undemocratic option” of keeping PAC chairmanship to itself.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker and former NA opposition leader Khursheed Shah has defended Shehbaz’s right to PAC chairmanship and extended his party’s support in the matter.

CONFLICTING OPINIONS WITHIN PTI:

On the other hand, senior PTI leaders in the cabinet have opposed the idea of not giving the PAC chairmanship to the opposition.

The PTI should not insist on holding PAC’s top post, a senior cabinet member said according to local media, confirming the conflicting opinions on the matter within the party.

The PTI leader stressed keeping in view the prevailing parliamentary norms it was the opposition’s responsibility to audit the government expenditures.

He said giving the key slot to the opposition will ensure transparency in the government spending and guarantee healthy democratic values in the country.

On Saturday, Information Minister Chaudhry said the PTI government will not allow Pakistan the PML-N leaders to audit projects carried out during their own government.

Speaking to media persons in the capital, the info minister said the opposition had no right to hold the chairmanship of the PAC.

Drawing Opposition Leader Shehbaz into his line of fire, the PTI leader asked, “How can the government have him [Shehbaz] investigate the projects carried out by the previous government PML-N?”

On Tuesday, during his conversation with journalists on the sidelines of NA session, Chaudhry had said that the government intended to have the PAC chairman appointed from the treasury benches.

Reacting to the minister’s statement a few days ago, PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb had claimed that Shehbaz will be given the PAC chairmanship in accordance with the tradition as NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had made assurances to her party.

“Opposition, including the PPP, has jointly decided to name Shehbaz Sharif as the PAC chairman. As per the norm in the previous tenures, the opposition leader holds the position of PAC chairman,” she said.

On September 25, a session of the PML-N had decided to name party president Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate as the PAC chairman.

It is worth mentioning that the current strength of the PML-N in the lower house of parliament dictates it to receive chairmanship of at least nine standing committees.

During 2008-2013 tenure of the PPP, the position remained with PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan while Khursheed Shah was appointed PAC chief in PML-N’s 2013-2018 term.