The interior minister seems to be on a crusade against the Sharifs – with his latest move being a possible moving of parliamentary watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) with a reference pertaining to alleged money laundering cases.
While the contents of a letter written to PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan by Interior Minister Rehman Malik have still not been made public, it is widely believed that they are related to the alleged money laundering cases. “I have not opened these letters. But I can confirm that I have received some letters from Rehman Malik but I don’t know their contents yet,” the PAC chairman told the media here on Tuesday.
The move by Malik may now set the stage for a potential showdown between the newly appointed PAC chairman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of the powerful panel of the National Assembly.Chan told The Express Tribune that once he had studied the contents of the ‘letters’, the fate of the references would be decided after consultation between members of the committee. “The decision to take up the issues pointed out by the interior minister would be taken up in accordance with the rules.”
The last chairman of the committee, PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had set a precedent during his tenure as chairman by investigating matters which were not part of audit reports by the auditor general of Pakistan.
The general view before Nisar’s tenure was that, under the rules, the 23-member multi-party committee could only investigate matters which were pointed out in audit paragraphs of reports by the auditor general. However, similar to suo motu powers exercised by other institutions, Chaudhry Nisar also began taking up matters that were beyond routine.
The first such case initiated by Nisar involved the sale of Pakistan embassy buildings in Tokyo and Jakarta at throwaway prices. Another precedent set by the PML-N stalwart during his chairmanship was to seek details of lobbyists hired by the incumbent government in the US to boost Pakistan’s image.
Led by Chan, the committee includes some heavyweights from the PML-N including Khawaja Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Zahid Hamid, Pervez Malik and Abid Sher Ali.
Under the rules, the chairman has to consult committee members before taking up any issue.
PPP members in the committee include Qamar Zaman Kaira, Rukhsana Bangash, Noor Alam Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Rana Farooq Saeed Khan. Interestingly, Pervez Malik will be arguing on behalf of the PML-N leadership, while his sister Yasmeen Rehman will plead the case on the government’s behalf.
As it stands, the PPP and its allies have a clear-cut majority in the PAC with Asia Nasir of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) being the only opposition member in the panel other than the PML-N members.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.
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