Opp will boycott PAC if govt keeps chairmanship, warns Shah

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah on Saturday said that the opposition would not be a part of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) if the government decided to keep its chairmanship with itself.

He said that the opposition would also boycott other standing committees of the National Assembly (NA).

“The chairmanship of PAC should be given to the opposition as per the tradition of the parliament,” he added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that that the government would not let Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif become the chairman of the PAC at any cost.

“We will not be blackmailed by the opposition,” the premier said while addressing a meeting of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary board, according to media reports.

PAC is the top-notch parliamentary body to oversee the spending made by the former governments as the yearly report of the auditor general for Pakistan (AGP) is presented before the committee which takes decisions over any irregularity committed in the statement of accounts. The deadlock over its chairmanship has persisted ever since the incumbent government took the oath of office.

Experts believe that there is no legal bar on the treasury to head the PAC, the parliamentary tradition over the past two governments has been that the office goes to the leader of the opposition or any member from the opposition benches named by the opposition leader.

It was the PPP government back in 2008 which for the first time gave the chairmanship of the PAC to the major opposition party who named Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the then leader of the opposition, to chair the PAC. PML-N returned the favour to PPP in the year 2013 as the then opposition leader, Syed Khurshid Shah, became the chairman of the PAC.

On September 26, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government wanted to keep the chairmanship with itself to investigate corruption. Later, in the evening, Fawad said that the party has decided to concede the PAC chairmanship to PML-N. But no agreement could be reached.

On October 30, PML-N announced that it could withdraw its members from all standing committees in the parliament in case it fails to gain chairmanship of the PAC. 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 NA if the incumbent government opted to “exercise undemocratic option” of keeping PAC chairmanship to itself.

On October 5, the government has decided to nominate senior politician Syed Fakhar Imam as the chairman of PAC.