ISLAMABAD: Opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan turned up the pressure on the government on Sunday by renouncing the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the pretext that accountability was not possible under the current regime. Opponents of the government expect the move to spark the en masse resignation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentarians.
“Today, I formally announce to resign as the chairman of the PAC,” Nisar said at a press conference on Sunday after recapitulating the achievements of the parliamentary watchdog during his tenure.
The opposition leader had earlier hinted at tendering his resignation in the wake of the appointment of Akhtar Buland Rana as the auditor general. The committee had held its last meeting in September and is due to meet in the next couple of days.
Nisar said that accountability during the current Pakistan Peoples Party regime led by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani – which is hell-bent to make the PAC a political battleground – was not possible.
For the first time in the country’s history, the PAC was poised to audit the accounts of the incumbent government but suddenly appointed a ‘controversial and compromised’ auditor general — compromising the efficacy of the committee, he said.
“The PML-N will not accept this office in the future but its five members of the committee would continue to represent the opposition,” he added.
The decisions of the PAC are taken through majority votes and PML-N has only five members (including the chairman) and the rest are from the PPP and its coalition partners.
“In that scenario, I (as chairman) would have to stamp wrong deeds of the government,” he explained.
When asked whether the party was going to resign from the assemblies, Nisar said: “We have that option in hand and its timing would be decided by the party leadership.
“The rulers have made parliament a rubber stamp and we no longer have any desire to be part of it,” Nisar asserted.
Joint session of parliament demanded
Earlier, the PML-N leader demanded that the government summon a joint session of parliament and give every single detail with regards to Saturday’s unprovoked attack by Nato helicopters that killed at least 24 security personnel and injured a dozen more on a Pakistani check post in Salala, located in the Bayzai tehsil area of Mohmand Agency on the border with Afghanistan.
“People of Pakistan are the biggest stakeholders and everything should be made public in a transparent manner,” he added while suggesting an open session instead of a secretive ‘in-camera’ session.
When asked about the PML-N’s point of view in the aftermath of the recent Nato attack, Nisar said: “Peace should be the new policy since we can no longer afford to fight someone else’s war at a time when they (US) do not trust us. Policies need to be reviewed.”
Commenting on the official response to the incident, the opposition leader said that the party was satisfied with the decisions taken by the defence committee of cabinet (DCC) but had serious reservations as far as their implementation was concerned.
“How can we believe that the government will implement the DCC’s decisions? Especially when it did not implement the parliamentary resolutions, All Parties Conference (APC) resolution and decisions of the Supreme Court,” he said. “These attacks will stop only when rulers take solid steps.”
Responding to a question regarding former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s decision to join the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Nisar wished him luck but clarified that Qureshi had never made any demands to join the PML-N in the first place.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.