• PTI accuses govt of delay, says its nominee is final; coalition asks opposition to submit names for consideration
• Chief whip claims other parties, including JUI-F, are also interested in coveted slot

ISLAMABAD: More than two weeks after its formation, the apex parliamentary committee is still without a chairperson due to a tug-of-war between the coalition government and the PTI for the coveted slot, which traditionally goes to the largest opposition party in the lower house of parliament.

On June 13, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq formed 40 standing committees, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), for the lower house but as many as 10 committees are without a chairperson for various reasons. These committees were supposed to be formed within 30 days after the election of the prime minister which took place on March 3, but it was delayed for three months.

The PTI claimed that the government was causing an inordinate delay in the election of the PAC chairman even though the party had already given the name of PTI MNA Sheikh Waqas Akram for the top slot.

The government, on the other hand, said the PTI had to put forth a panel of four candidates for the position because the party had nominated someone else instead of the National Assembly Opposition Leader Omar Ayub for the slot.

Speaking to Dawn, PTI Chief Whip Aamir Dogar said he called on his PML-N counterpart Tariq Fazal Chaudhry to reiterate that Mr Akram was their only candidate for the PAC chairman’s office.

He said the government again asked the PTI to present a panel of at least four candidates for the position because ruling coalition partners, like the PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Move­ment, were also asking for the same slot. Similarly, the JUI-F was also eyeing the PAC chairmanship, he added.

Mr Dogar said the PTI leadership once again decided that Sheikh Waqas would be its only candidate for the position and would not form any panel in this regard.

He claimed that the government and the National Assembly Sec­ret­ariat were responsible for the delay in the Public Accounts Comm­ittee election. According to Amir Dogar, the government and its partners are unanimous that the coalition partners will only accept a name from the four-candidate panel.

When contacted, a leader of the PML-N said the ruling party had agreed to offer the PAC chairmanship to the opposition SIC-PTI as per the tradition and in line with the Charter of Democracy inked between the PPP and PML-N in May 2006. He said the PTI was asked to present the panel of its nominees because it had not forwarded the name of the leader of the opposition for the slot.

PTI spokesperson Raoof Hassan said the government was using delaying tactics in the election of the PAC chairman as it wanted to elect the chairman from some other party instead of their nominee. “We have presented the name of Sheikh Waqas Akram to the NA Secretariat some five months ago but the government is doing contrary to what it is saying,” he added.

Earlier, the PTI had floated the name of its firebrand leader Sher Afzal Marwat as PAC chairman but PTI founder Imran Khan, who is in jail, dropped his name after Mr Marwat had issued a statement against the Saudi government alleging its role in the PTI government’s toppling. Interestingly, Sher Afzal Marwat is not even a member of the PAC.

According to a notification, the PAC members are Sardar Yousuf Zaman, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Junaid Anwar Chaudhry, Shezra Mansab Kharal, Raza Hayat Harraj, and Rana Qasim Noon of the PML-N; Murtaza Mehmood, Shazia Marri, Syed Hussain Tariq, Syed Naveed Qamar, and Hina Rabbani Khar of the PPP; Opposition Leader Omar Ayub, Sanaullah Masti­khail, Junaid Akbar, Riaz Khan, Sheikh Waqas Akram, Aamir Dogar, and Khawaja Sheeraz Mehmood of the SIC, Moin Aamer Pirzada of the MQM-P, and Shahida Begum of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F). Minister for Finance Muhammad Aurangzeb will be an ex-officio member of the PAC. Moreover, the Senate chairman will also nominate eight senators for the committee.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2024

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