ISLAMABAD  -   To initiate probe into the alleged rigging in July 25, 2018 general elections the inaugural session of the Parliamentary Committee on Elections 2018 will be held here tomorrow to pick committee’s chairman and draft its terms of reference (TORs).

The committee with equal representation from ruling alliance and opposition parties was formed on the demand of opposition parties and almost all the opposition parties and even some of the parties sitting in the ruling alliance had raised serious reservations over the fairness of the elections and wanted forensic audit of the whole exercise. The ruling alliance led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf had already proposed the name of Pervez Khattak to be the chairman of the parliamentary body as agreed between the government and opposition parties during the initial negotiations on the issue.

As the treasury and opposition parties were already in a row over the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee as the ruling PTI alliance had refused to dole out the slot to Leader of Opposition, as per the parliamentary norm established as a result of Charter of Democracy signed by the two main political parties - PPP and PML-N well over a decade back.

PML-N, holding the slot of Leader of Opposition in lower house of the Parliament, has already threatened not to become part of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as well as other house committees of National Assembly in case Leader of Opposition Shahbaz Sharif is denied the chairmanship of PAC. The matter is still in limbo and the negotiations held in this connection between government and opposition so far have failed to resolve the issue, a senior PML-N leader informed The Nation.

When contacted PML-N central leader and former interior minister Ch. Ahsan Iqbal said that the decision to become part of the Parliamentary Committee on Elections 2018 would be made in consultation with other opposition parties today before the start of the National Assembly session.

He, however, dispelled the impression of any impact of the government and pposition standoff on the issue of PAC chairmanship and said that it is Parliamentary Committee and could not be mixed up with house committees. He further said that the Parliamentary Committee on Elecitons 2018 was formed due to the immense pressure from opposition parties and would see no reason of its boycott.

He said that they would devise a strategy on it in consultation with other opposition parties and hinted at participation in the maiden session of the Parliamentary Committee where they would play their role in devising effective terms of reference so that the alleged anomalies and irregularities of Election Commission of Pakistan could be fully exposed.

Especially, the breakdown of results transmission system on elections night had invited serious objections on the fairness of these elections. However, soon after the elections Pakitan Tehreek-i-Insaaf leadership, which emerged as single largest party in these elections in centre, had announced that they would support whatever sort of probe into the alleged rigging in these elections opposition parties would propose.

PML-N central leader Mushahid Ullah Khan was also of the view that the issue of Public Accounts Committee chairmanship could not be linked to the Parliamentary Committee as that the issue purely pertains to the house committees of the lower house of the Parliament whereas the parliamentary committee is altogether different, so he was of the view that PML-N in consultation with other opposition parties would participate in the body primarily formed on their demand.

The committee with equal strength from treasury and opposition benches comprises Pervez Khattak, Shafqat Mehmood, Shireen Mazari, Fawad Chaudhry, Tariq Bashir Cheema, Azam Swati and Amir Dogar, Khalid Magsi, Akhtar Mengal, Ameenul Haq and Ghous Bakhsh Mehr from the government side.

From opposition, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanveer, Ahsan Iqbal, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar and Ameer Haider Hoti, Maulana Abdul Wasay, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Mohammad Ali Saif, Sarfraz Bugti, Nauman Wazir, Hidayatullah, Javed Abbasi, Asad Junejo, Usman Kakar and Rehman Malik have been included in the committee.