ISLAMABAD: The government has thrown the ball back to the court of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N, asking him to either retake chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or nominate someone else from his party for the post.
The post of chairman of the most important standing committee of the house has been lying redundant since Nov 27 last year when Chaudhry Nisar submitted his resignation to the National Assembly speaker. Following a decision taken by the PPP leadership, the National Assembly Secretariat has formally forwarded a letter to Chaudhry Nisar, requesting him to retake the PAC chairmanship which he had successfully run for nearly three years, a senior government official close to the development told Dawn.
Anjum Mughal, director general media of the National Assembly, also confirmed the writing of the letter to the office of the opposition leader.
The letter referred to the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by PPP chairperson late Benazir Bhutto and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in May 2006. According to it, the PAC would be headed by the leader of the opposition.
“Following the spirit of the CoD and good work which the PAC has done over the past three years, Chaudhry Nisar should take back the charge of the committee, or nominate some body from his party as his replacement,” the letter said. The PML-N has five members in the PAC.
PML-N secretary information Senator Mushahidullah Khan said Chaudhry Nisar had resigned from the position after expressing his reservations and he could not continue with the assignment. “If the government asks him to become the PAC chairman again, the party leadership will take an appropriate decision,” he said, adding that the issue would be discussed with Mr Sharif who was expected in Islamabad in a few days.
Chaudhry Nisar had accused the PPP-led ruling coalition of making the PAC an ineffective body because it was about to take up the audit reports of accounts and expenditures of the first year of the government.
“The government wants to run the PAC on political lines like it has done with the National Accountability Bureau and parliament,” Mr Khan was reported to have said at the time of his resignation.
He also criticised the appointment of Buland Akhtar Rana as new Auditor General of Pakistan and said he had been appointed to undermine the working of the committee.
The PAC’s entire working depends on audit objections to expenditures by public sector organisations which the AGP brings to the committee for its ruling.
“Therefore, if the position of the AGP is compromised, how come the PAC chairman will be able to discharge his duty transparently,” Mr Mushahidullah wondered. “I personally believe that it will not be an easy decision for the PML-N to take back the position of PAC chairmanship.”
It may be recalled that National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza had immediately accepted Chaudhry Nisar’s resignation, giving an impression as if the treasury benches were happy with his decision of quitting the post. A PPP lawmaker said that the PML-Q and JUI-F had started staking claims for the position on the basis of their strength in the house and, therefore, “we have decided to ask the PML-N once again if it’s willing; otherwise, someone else could be adjusted against the position”.