ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday ruled out the possibility of any “deal” with the opposition and directed leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to search for legal ways to remove Shahbaz Sharif from the office of chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
He made these remarks at a meeting of senior leaders of the PTI at Prime Minister Office.
“We are looking into some legal ways to send Shahbaz Sharif home,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn after the meeting.
No deal is being made with any opposition party, says PM
Shahbaz Sharif was appointed PAC chairman on Dec 22 last year with the consent of the PTI, but now the party is suddenly demanding his resignation.
The PTI leaders also asserted that the government would not make any National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-like deal with any opposition leader.
The minister quoted Prime Minister Khan as saying: “No deal will be made with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).”
The prime minister did not disclose who wanted NRO from him and why he and other PTI leaders said time and again that no deal was being made with the opposition.
However, Communication Minister Murad Saeed had said on the floor of the National Assembly a few days ago that seven opposition leaders had approached him for NRO. However, he too did not disclose the leaders’ names.
Fawad Chaudhry said the government believed that Shahbaz Sharif was using the PAC as a shield against corruption cases he was facing and therefore his decisions as PAC head were a source of concern for the PTI and its allied parties.
He said the meeting was of the view that Shahbaz Sharif had been facing mega corruption cases and being the PAC chief he was exerting pressure on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “The way Shahbaz Sharif has summoned NAB officials to committee meetings shows that he wants to be protected behind the shield of the PAC,” he added.
The PAC, the apex parliamentary watchdog that oversees the audit of revenue and expenditure by the government, is considered to be the most powerful and important committee of parliament.
Previously, the PAC comprised only National Assembly members, but in the recent past members of the Senate have also been made part of it.
Though there is no restriction on the government in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to opposition parties, it has been a parliamentary practice and tradition that the office is given to an opposition member to ensure transparency in financial matters.
Initially, the PTI government was reluctant to give chairmanship of this vital parliamentary committee to the opposition leader contrary to the traditional practice. However, later the PTI agreed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in the National Assembly that Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to not stand in the way of Mr Sharif, if he wanted to head the PAC.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019