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PML-N boycott thwarts election of PA committees’ chairmen

Updated May 16, 2019

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An official of the assembly said the election process for each of the three bodies was stalled for want of quorum. — APP/File
An official of the assembly said the election process for each of the three bodies was stalled for want of quorum. — APP/File

LAHORE: The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) successfully blocked elections to the slots of chairmen of three standing committees of the Punjab Assembly by boycotting the polling process here on Wednesday.

An official of the assembly said the election process for each of the three bodies was stalled for want of quorum (simple majority of the 11-member committees) after boycott by the opposition members.

The polls for electing heads of the committees for home, public prosecution and revenue were scheduled for Wednesday at the assembly secretariat. But the PML-N boycotted the process to protest denial of the office of the Public Accounts Committee-I’s chairmanship to opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz as per parliamentary tradition set under the Charter of Democracy (CoD).

Punjab Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja alleged that the opposition was intentionally obstructing the parliamentary process in violation of the formula settled for distribution of chairmanships of standing committees.

Explaining the formula, he said offices of 21 panels of the provincial assembly would go to the government and the remaining 19 to the opposition parties. And the opposition had already occupied six of the 19 bodies.

Regretting the boycott by the PML-N, he said the government was sticking to the formula and was determined to resolving the issue of the PAC-I chairmanship with the passage of time and the opposition must not make it an excuse to obstruct the parliamentary process.

Punjab PML-N General Secretary Azma Zahid Bukhari says her party won’t join the process for the formation of any of the standing committees until Hamza Shahbaz is not notified PAC-I chairman. She accused the PTI-led government of taking another U-turn by not allowing the opposition leader to lead the PAC-I and vowed that Bani Gala (the private residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad) would no more be allowed to run Punjab through a remote-controlled device.

She said her party could go to any extent if the government doesn’t notify Hamza as chairman of the PAC-I.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee-II has pointed out construction irregularities in the Kalma Chowk underpass project and formed a sub-committee to probe the issue.

A meeting of the panel chaired by Syed Yawar Abbas held here on Wednesday pointed out various irregularities in the construction of Kalma Chowk underpass project executed by Shahbaz Sharif government.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019