PML-Q gets PAC-II chairman slot: PML-N exults at denial of position to ruling party

Published November 20, 2021
PML-Q's Sajid Ahmed Bhatti (pictured) was elected ‘unopposed’ PAC-II chairman during the PAC meeting held at the assembly secretariat. — Photo via Facebook
PML-Q's Sajid Ahmed Bhatti (pictured) was elected ‘unopposed’ PAC-II chairman during the PAC meeting held at the assembly secretariat. — Photo via Facebook

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has helped the PTI government’s coalition partner – PML-Q – grab the Punjab Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC-II) chairmanship.

Unable to have the PAC-I chairmanship since the PTI coalition government came to power more than three years ago, the PML-N says it feels ‘content with’ at least denying the ruling PTI the opportunity to lay hand on the coveted post.

On Friday, PML-N backed Sajid Ahmed Bhatti (of PML-Q) from Mandi Bahauddin was elected ‘unopposed’ PAC-II chairman during the PAC meeting held at the assembly secretariat. Mr Bhatti has replaced PTI’s Yawar Abbas Bokhari. Mr Bokhari, a relative of Zulfi Bokhari, a close aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan, had resigned from this post after he was appointed a provincial minister.

Interestingly, PTI MPA Nawabzada Waseem Khan proposed Mr Bhatti’s name for the slot and PML-N’s lawmakers Khwaja Salman Rafique and Malik Ahmed Khan seconded it. Most of the PAC-II members belong to the PML-N.

The PML-N’s decision to go for ‘all-out support’ for the PML-Q without seeking anything in return raises eyebrows in the party. “The Chaudhrys of Gujrat have done smart politics yet again… getting elected their party lawmaker unopposed… and in return the PML-N got nothing,” a party insider said. He said on the one hand the PML-N Punjab Assembly members had been crying for the last three years for not making opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz PAC-I chairman and, on the other, the leaders were playing ‘poor politics’ in the house.

Another source said the party’s ‘unconditional support’ to the PML-Q might be a ‘goodwill gesture’ on the instruction from ‘top leadership’ in the current political situation.

PAC-II chairman seconder Malik Ahmed Khan, who is PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif’s spokesperson, defended his party’s stance saying: “We wanted to defeat the PTI and we succeeded in it.”

As for the PML-N’s stance over its claim to the PAC-I slot, Mr Khan said: “The PAC-I must be given to the opposition leader and we will not rejoin the standing committees of the assembly till our demand is met.”

Around 100 PML-N lawmakers had resigned from the standing committees of the Punjab Assembly in protest against denying the opposition leader the PAC-I chairman slot more than two years ago. The PML-N says it is for the first time in the Punjab Assembly’s history that such a huge number of lawmakers from opposition resigned from the standing committees.

“After opposition members’ resignations, the standing committees have no democratic standing in their decisions,” it says.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2021

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