In violation of a 30-day deadline, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has once again delayed the nomination process of chairpersons for 28 standing committees of the National Assembly.
Justifying the delay, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that the budget session consumed more time than anticipated; adding that days used up in the budget session would not be included in the 30 day legal deadline set for notifying heads of standing committees.
After the budget session, the month of Ramazan has started, so we will now look into notifying the process after Eid, he said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Pointing out that as per parliamentary norms consensus of all parties was required for nominating heads of standing committees, Sadiq said the process will now begin in the next session of the lower house of parliament.
According to media reports, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is leading the process of cherry picking his party’s nominees for various committees, but due to the sheer volume of work, he has not been able to give time to the process.
As per parliamentary rules, “each committee shall consist of not more than 17 members to be elected by the assembly within 30 days after the ascertainment of the Leader of the House”.
The task primarily rests with ministry of parliamentary affairs, as it is supposed to give the names to assembly secretariat to constitute the committees. These committees would be functional only after approval of the assembly.
Following the expiry of the July 5 deadline, the committees would not be functional at least by this month because the next session of the assembly has been convened for August 13, after Ramazan.
As per the procedure, the speaker has a limited role in the formation of standing committees and is restricted to their notification, once their formation has been agreed on by both sides of the aisle in parliament.
In view of its numerical strength, the PML-N is expected to get chairmanship of nearly 18 standing committees of the National Assembly.
Similarly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and others would bag chairmanships of the other 12 House committees.
With the country transitioning into stable democratic norms, the role of the standing committees has now become crucial in managing the overall affairs of the state.
During the last assembly, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by then leader of opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, performed extremely well and managed to recovered over Rs100 billion from different government departments.
These standing committees of the House play an important role of oversight and monitoring the working of relevant government ministries. In the parliamentary democracies, the committees are regarded as “eyes, ears, hands and even brain of the Parliament.”
All legislation presented in the House is referred to relevant standing committees, which not only provide feedback to the House on each piece of legislation, but also act as important conduits of reaching agreement on relevant legislation between various parliamentary parties.
According to Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT), parliamentary committees are one of the most important mechanisms by which legislatures hold state institutions accountable, question executive policies and investigate issues of public concern.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.