ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: The Pakistan People’s Party replaced on Tuesday Ali Musa Gilani, the younger son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, with his elder brother Abdul Qadir Gilani as member of the Parliamentary Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab.

The move came three days after the Anti-Narcotics Force declared Ali Musa Gilani an absconder along with Textiles Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and former principal secretary to the prime minister, Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, in connection with the ephedrine case.

Mr Lashari is out of the country whereas Shahabuddin and Musa Gilani have been in hiding since Sept 3 when their bail was rejected by the Lahore High Court.

Law Minister Farooq Naek briefed the commission during an in-camera session on legal and technical points relating to creation of new federating units.

Sources told Dawn that most of the members wanted to know the legal standing of the commission after the Punjab assembly’s resolution rejecting it.

The sources said the law minister had said the commission could continue its work since it had been formed in accordance with an earlier unanimously-passed resolution in the Punjab assembly and another resolution in the National Assembly.

The chairman of the commission, Senator Farhatullah Babar, said Qadir Gilani had attended the meeting for the first time.

He said the speaker had the powers to change the composition of the commission and the National Assembly secretariat had already issued a notification about the change of the member, though he himself came to know about it only after the meeting.

Mr Babar said at first he thought that Qadir Gilani might have been participating in place of his younger brother since under the commission’s rules, members were authorised to nominate any person in their place, if they could not attend the meeting because of other engagements.

Mr Babar expressed the hope that the commission would complete its work within 30 days, but said they could seek more time, if needed. He said no date had been fixed for the next meeting.

Mr Babar again requested the protesting PML-N members to end their boycott of the commission.

During its meeting on Aug 29, the commission had decided to hold in-camera sessions and to invite stakeholders to seek their viewpoints before finalising its recommendations.

The commission became controversial since its inception because the main opposition PML-N objected to its composition as well as its focus only on one province and decided to boycott its proceedings.

The PML-N questions the presence of representatives of the MQM, JUI-F and ANP in the Punjab-specific panel. It calls for creation of new federating units like Hazara in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Bahawalpur which should be included in the terms of reference.

The party believes the commission has no constitutional or legal standing and it has been formed only by the PPP as a ploy to achieve some political objectives before the general elections.

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