ISLAMABAD: Speaker Asad Qaiser on Tuesday finally constituted the remaining 36 standing and functional committees of the National Assembly, thus completing the process almost six months after the present assembly came into existence.
The delay in formation of over three dozen committees has been badly affecting legislative work of parliament as the National Assembly, which came into existence in August after the general elections held in July last year, had been functioning with only two committees, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
According to an official announcement about the committees by the National Assembly Secretariat, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been nominated as a member of the committee on human rights only, whereas his father and former president Asif Zardari has not been included in any committee.
Bilawal to head human rights committee; Asif Zardari, Shahid Khaqan, Pervez Ashraf, Khursheed Shah not included in any committee
Besides Mr Zardari, other prominent names missing from all the committees are two former prime ministers — Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N and Raja Pervez Ashraf of the PPP — and senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the head of the PAC, has been nominated as a member of the NA committees on information and broadcasting and Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Besides Mr Sharif, other members of the committee on information and broadcasting are Marriyum Aurangzeb, Usman Tarakai, Syed Aminul Haq of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Sardar Jamal Leghari of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Maiza Hameed, Dr Nafeesa Shah and Naz Baloch.
The other panels comprising political heavyweights are the committees on interior, energy, foreign affairs and finance.
The committee on interior comprises Balochistan National Party chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Shahzain Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party, Pervez Malik and Marriyum Aurangzeb of the PML-N and Nawab Yousuf Talpur and Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP.
The committee on energy consists of Akhtar Mengal, Ghous Bux Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance, Noor Alam Khan of the PTI, former deputy speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, former commerce minister Khurram Dastagir Khan, former Kashmir affairs minister Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, former inter-provincial coordination minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada of the PML-N and the PPP’s Shazia Marri.
The committee on foreign affairs comprises former speaker Syed Fakhar Imam, parliamentary secretary for law Maleeka Bokhari, Dr Ramesh Kumar, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Hina Rabbani Khar and Mohsin Dawar, an independent and vocal MNA from tribal areas. Interestingly, Zain Hussain Qureshi, the son of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has also been nominated as a member of the committee before which his father would be answerable.
The NA committee on finance, revenue and economic affairs consists of former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, Hina Rabbani Khar and Dr Nafeesa Shah of the opposition parties, besides Nasrullah Dreshak and Dr Ramesh Kumar of the ruling PTI.
Ahsan Iqbal, who had served as planning and development minister in the previous PML-N government, has been named a member of the committee on planning and development, whereas former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has been nominated as a member of the committee on railways. Mr Rafique, who is currently under custody of the National Accountability Bureau in connection with a housing society scam, is also a member of the committee on science and technology.
Another firebrand PML-N MNA from Sialkot, Khawaja Asif, who had served as minister for power and foreign affairs in the previous government, has been nominated as a member of the committee on water resources.
Initially, the speaker had to delay the formation of the committees because of an impasse between the government and the opposition over the issue of chairmanship of the PAC. The issue was finally resolved in December last year when Prime Minister Imran Khan conceded the chairmanship of the all-powerful PAC to Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif.
Sources said that an understanding between the government and the opposition had been reached on the distribution of chairmanship of 38 standing committees.
Under the agreed formula, the chairmanship of 18 committees would go to the opposition, while the remaining 20 committees would be headed by the ruling PTI and its allies.
When contacted, the spokesman for the PPP chairman, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, confirmed that Mr Bhutto-Zardari would head the NA committee on human rights.
Mr Khokhar, who is presently in the US with the PPP chairman, said that the government had assured the opposition that Mr Bhutto-Zardari would head the committee on human rights.
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2019