Govt, opposition agree on formula for NA panels’ heads

Updated December 20, 2018

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Twenty standing committees to be chaired by govt while 18 will be headed by opposition. — File photo
Twenty standing committees to be chaired by govt while 18 will be headed by opposition. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: After months-long delay, the government and the opposition on Wednesday agreed on a formula for distribution of chairpersonship of 38 standing committees of the National Assembly.

Under the formula, chairpersonship of 20 committees will be held by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and the remaining 18 would be given to the opposition.

The formula was finalised in a meeting held in the Parliament House which was chaired by NA Speaker Asad Qaisar and attended by parliamentary leaders of all parties, including main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Twenty standing committees to be chaired by govt, 18 by opposition

The tussle between the government and the opposition on chairpersonship of the standing committee was the main reason behind delay in formation of these committees.

After the meeting, a source in the PML-N told Dawn that the government and the opposition had agreed on the formula under which the opposition would get chairmanship of the 12 standing committees which were led by the opposition during the previous PML-N government. In addition to these 12 committees, the opposition will also get six more standing committees.

However, it is yet to be ascertained which six additional committees will be given to the opposition.

Of the 18 committees to be headed by the opposition, 10 will be given to the PML-N, six will be headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and two will be chaired by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.

Talking in a private TV programme, NA Speaker Qaisar said that the government and the opposition had reached consensus on chairpersonship of standing committees of the lower house and now there was no deadlock on the issue.

He said the standing committees which were headed by the opposition during the last government would be given to the opposition and rest of the committees would be headed by the treasury benchers.

It has been learnt that the government has decided that it will chair important standing committees, including those on defence, interior, finance, foreign affairs and petroleum.

The source in the PML-N said that the opposition had no objection if the government kept important standing committees with it. “We have never asked the government for these [important] committees,” the source said.

It is because of the absence of functional standing committees that the process of legislation in the parliament is slow. Meanwhile, the parliamentary process of financial accountability through the Public Accounts Committee is yet to start.

Under the rules, the speaker is bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees of the house “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”.

Since PTI chairman Imran Khan had been elected prime minister on Aug 18, the speaker had time till Sept 17 for the formation of over three dozen committees.

According to the sources, all the opposition parties had given the names of their members for the committees’ chairpersonship to the NA Secretariat as per the rules.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018