ISLAMABAD .: Due to its numerical strength in parliament, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is likely to get the lion’s share in the National Assembly (NA) standing committees which will be formed within the next one month.
The National Assembly Secretariat has recently written letters to Leader of the House, Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif for nomination of their lawmakers as members of these committees.
According to senior officers in the NA Secretariat, the PTI is in a position not only to get a large number of its lawmakers elected as members of the committees but also to get positions of the committee’s chairpersons.
The committees play an important role of monitoring the working of relevant ministries. In the parliamentary democracy, the standing committees are regarded as “eyes, ears, hands and even brain of parliament”.
Like the Senate, any legislative business is mostly referred to the standing committees where the members discuss it threadbare and come up with submissions and omissions.
The PTI has 151 members in the house of 330 and it gives the party 45% of the total members of the lawmakers as per the formula the secretariat applies for the award of the membership of the committees. The by-elections on the remaining 11 seats of the house are to be held in October.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 81 members in the house is likely to get 25% representation in these committees followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party with 16% membership.
Other smaller parties like the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement etc will have less than 10% representation in these bodies. According to the NA’s committee wing, there are 34 ministerial committees and each committee has 20 members including a chairperson.
The committees include cabinet, climate change, defense, information, railways, water resources and others. One lawmaker can simultaneously become member of several committees. Sitting ministers of the committee concerned are ex-officio members of that committee.
There are four non-ministerial committees. The government assurances committee with 16 members; house and library committee with 13 members; public accounts committee with 23 MNAs and six senators as members; and the rules of procedure and privileges committee with 22 members.
The finance committee has 17 members; house business advisory committee should have a minimum of 19 members and the special committee on Kashmir that also has 24 members.
A senior official of the NA secretariat said since the letters have been written recently, chief whip of the PM and a representative of the leader of opposition are likely to submit names of the members after the presidential elections due on Tuesday (today).
“But I still think it will take time as the last government in 2013 also took couple of months in sharing the names of the members,” he said.
In addition to the standing committees, the NA can constitute, in accordance with the provisions of rule 244, Select Committees on Bills and Special Committees to carry out functions specified in the motion.
After the members of the committees are finalised, the bodies elect their chairpersons to formally start the business. Having one’s own chairperson helps the ruling party getting through complex and controversial legislation off the assembly.