The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to elect one of its own members as the chairman of one of the public accounts committees (PAC II).
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) says it will resist any such attempt because the two parties had agreed, in the Charter of Democracy (CoD), that public account committees in both provincial and national assemblies would be headed by opposition members.
There are two PACs in the Punjab Assembly. Both have been headed by opposition members. PAC-I is chaired by PML-Q’s parliamentary leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin. PPP’s Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani was the chairman of the PAC-II until his recent election to the National Assembly.
In 2008, the Punjab government had voted for Gilani – who was then a member of the government coalition – the chairman of one of the committees. When the two parties parted ways in the Punjab, Gilani retained the portfolio.
The PAC-II has 13 members – six from the PML-N, four from the PPP and three from the PML-Q. According to the rules of business, only one of the committee members can be elected as chairman.
PML-N members, privy to the development, said that the party was thinking of electing Nawabzada Syed Shams Haider, an MPA from Jhelum. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, they said, will discuss the matter with the party leadership before the Punjab Assembly meets on August 27.
Haider is not a currently member of the committee. The PML-N members told The Tribune that the party might ask one of the party members to resign from the committee and then notify Haider’s appointment to the committee.
The public relations officer for the Punjab Assembly told The Tribune that no names have been submitted so far for the vacant position. He said that the matter would be taken up in the upcoming session.
Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, a senior PPP leader in the Punjab Assembly, told The Express Tribune that the PML-N had informed them that they planned to elect one of their MPAs as chairman of the PAC-II. He described this as “an injustice” and a violation of the CoD. It is the opposition’s right to elect a new chairman, he said.
Asked about PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan heading the National Assembly PAC, Kaira said the PPP had not asked Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to quit. Khan resigned of his free will, Kaira said, adding that Chan was doing a good job as chairman. Zaheeruddin shared Kaira’s view, describing the election of a new chairman as “PPP’s right”.
The PML-Q leader said the PPP would elect a member to replace Gilani on the committee. Seven votes are required to elect a new chairman, he said, which the PPP and the PML-Q have between them. The PML-N will need one of the opposition’s votes to elect Haider, Zaheeruddin said. “We might have to elect a new chairman in a meeting outside the house,” he said.
Deputy Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Shaukat Mehmood Basra said the PPP will resist any attempts by the PML-N to have one of its members elected as chairman.
Haider and Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan could not be reached for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.