KARACHI: A day after the Sindh Assembly elected him as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, former Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon resigned from the post on Wednesday, citing the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) reference against him.
Memon, who is currently in the custody of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was made a member of the provincial watchdog, along with Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Faryal Taplur, who is also facing NAB charges in the mega-money laundering case.
"I'm thankful to my party and the Sindh Assembly for electing me PAC member," said Memon in a letter addressed to the Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who is also in NAB custody and facing corruption charges. "It's an honor for me. Currently, I'm facing NAB trial and it would be difficult for me to discharge my duty, therefore, I resign from membership with immediate effect," reads the letter.
Charges against Memon
Memon, a former provincial information minister, was arrested in October 2017 by the federal anti-graft watchdog officials from outside the Sindh High Court premises after his interim bail plea was revoked.
The bureau had booked him and 11 others - including the former provincial information secretary, other officials of the information department and heads of different advertisement agencies - for allegedly embezzling Rs5.77 billion.
The money was embezzled purportedly while awarding contracts to seven advertising agencies to run awareness campaigns from 2013 to 2015.
Talpur, Memon elected to Sindh's Public Accounts Committee
In September last year, Memon was involved in another controversy when the the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had found bottles that allegedly contained liquor from his hospital room. Memon had been under treatment at the Ziauddin Hospital's Shirin Jinnah branch, where his room had been declared a sub-jail.
He was sent back to Karachi's Central Jail soon after the discovery, as police and hospital authorities scrambled to save face.
The controversial election
Soon after the PAC's election on Tuesday, some sections of the media and political leaders criticised the PPP government's decision to elect Talpur and Memon as members of the provincial accountability watchdog that is meant to inspect anomalies in the accounts of various government departments. Other members elected to the PAC according to the March 19 notification included Ghulam Qadir Chandio, Mohammad Qasim Soomro, Abdul Karim Soomro, Syed Farukh Ahmed Shah and Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran. All are affiliated with the PPP.
Bone of contention
The PAC's function is to deal with the accounts of the Sindh Government and the Auditor-General's reports sent by the Assembly. The functions of this committee also include the scrutiny of the government's accounts and Auditor-General's reports. The committee will watch if the funds are used for the same purpose for which they were reserved or not. Meanwhile, according to rule 191, the committee is obliged to present its report before the Assembly every year.
Opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly have been protesting for the last several weeks against the Sindh government's refusal to appoint the PAC chairman from their ranks. How can the government keep check on itself, they question. They are demanding to implement the charter of democracy signed between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to appoint the opposition leader as PAC chairman.
The PPP has, however, refused to budge. "There is no legal binding nor is it mentioned in the Assembly's rules and procedure, so we can't give this slot to the Opposition," said one PPP leader.
There are a total of 34 standing committees of various government departments in the Sindh Assembly, along with the PAC and the finance committee. Elections on 22 standing committees were held on Monday.
Meanwhile, 14 committees have been left for Opposition parties, which boycotted the polls. The members of standing committees and PAC were elected in the first phase and will later elect their chairmen. Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani was also elected unopposed as the chairman of finance committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2019.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ