ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday turned down a government offer to become chairman of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly.

According to the PPP, the government offered the slot of PAC chairman to the PPP chief, but he was reluctant to hold this office.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s spokesman Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar told Dawn that the government had contacted the PPP chairman and made the offer during Friday’s session of the lower house of parliament. However, he said, the PPP chief was of the view that it was the right of Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif to head the PAC and in case he (Mr Sharif) did not want to hold the office it was his sole prerogative to nominate any other person for the post.

Information minister denies making any such offer to PPP chief

Earlier during the NA session, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had a chat with Mr Bhutto-Zardari during which the latter showed reluctance to become the PAC chairman.

When contacted, the information minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had not ext­end­ed any such offer to Mr Bhutto-Zardari. He said he had met the PPP chief in the National Assembly and reiterated the PTI’s stance that the post of PAC chairman should be held by the ruling party to audit the projects launched by the previous (PML-N) government.

“I told Mr Bilawal how can Shahbaz Sharif be allowed to assess projects executed by the government of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif (ex-prime minister),” Mr Chaudhry said.

Earlier, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his party would fully cooperate with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar in maintaining harmony among members of the treasury and opposition benches. He said it was an encouraging sign on the part of the government that it had started realising the importance of positive and productive proceedings of the lower house.

The main opposition PML-N insists that it is its right to hold the office of PAC chairman as the position was held by the opposition leader during the last two regimes.

On the other hand, the PTI sticks to its stance that it is the right of the ruling party to ascertain irregularities if committed by the last PML-N government in development projects and other financial matters.

The PML-N says it is “seriously considering” the option of taking the extreme step of withdrawing from all parliamentary committees if the government does not offer the post of PAC chairman to the opposition.

Sources in the PML-N said the party leaders during recent meetings had discussed various options to record its protest over the government’s possible move to devoid the opposition of its right on the PAC chairmanship and even the option of withdrawing from all the committees also came under discussion.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018

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