ISLAMABAD: Twenty days after his removal from the office of finance minister, the government on Wednesday decided to appoint Asad Umar as chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) held at the Parliament House during which party leaders expressed concern over the appointment of technocrats and non-elected members on key positions.
The committee is presently being headed by PTI’s MNA Faizullah from Faisalabad.
Under the rules, the PTI will have to withdraw one of its members from the committee to accommodate Asad Umar and also seek Mr Faizullah’s resignation from the committee chairmanship. After Mr Umar’s inclusion in the committee, its members will be required to elect a new chairman which will merely be a formality, because as per an understanding between the government and the opposition, the committee will be headed by a PTI member.
At parliamentary party meeting, PTI leaders express concern over appointment of technocrats on key positions
The prime minister told the meeting that he would attend the session of the National Assembly at least once a week to answer opposition’s questions. He later attended the NA session and decided to attend it again on Monday.
“It was my choice to become chairman of the NA’s Standing Committee on Finance,” Asad Umar told Dawn, confirming the government’s decision.
He said he could not attend the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, but he had heard that some party leaders asked the prime minister to bring him back and give him some responsibility he deserved. At this, the prime minister apprised the meeting that Asad Umar would soon take charge as chairman of the NA finance committee.
“In fact I asked the prime minister for the chairmanship of this committee because I have some expertise in financial matters which I want to utilise,” Mr Umar said, adding that he met the prime minister for a second consecutive day on Wednesday and thanked him [Mr Khan] for reposing confidence in him by deciding to appoint him chairman of the committee.
After meeting the prime minister on Tuesday, Mr Umar had told Dawn that he had been offered a ministry, but he decided not to become a part of the cabinet.
During the parliamentary party meeting, the PTI leaders asked the prime minister why elected and diehard party members were not being considered for sought-after slots. According to a source, the party leaders objected to the appointment of Firdous Ashiq Awan as Special Assistant to the PM on Information, Dr Hafeez Shaikh as Adviser to the PM on Finance and Nadeem Babar as Adviser to the PM on Petroleum.
PM Khan listened to their concerns patiently and told them that some bitter decisions had to be taken in the country’s interest. He expressed the hope that non-elected people would also serve according to his desires and expectations.
Later, the prime minister took the parliamentary party members into confidence on the local government system being introduced in the PTI-ruled provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that under the new LG system, elected representatives would be empowered to take decisions at grass-root level.
The prime minister asked the party leaders to concentrate on addressing people’s problems and take updates from their constituencies on prices of essential items during Ramazan.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2019