ISLAMABAD  -  The standoff between government and opposition over the formation of parliamentary committees, including Public Accounts Committee, persists, as both sides could not find a way out even after passing three months.

The opposition parties in the National Assembly are united not to give names for their representation in standing committees, as they all want opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif to be appointed as chairman PAC.

PML-N, the main opposition party, is enjoying full support of all the opposition parties, including PPP and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to force PTI government to follow the Charter of Democracy (CoD). The CoD, signed in 2006 between the main political parties, has one of the understandings to only give the PAC top slot to opposition leader of the National Assembly.

Both the main parties - PPP-P and PML-N - after coming into power in their tenures followed the agreement in letter and spirit.  As opposition leader Khursheed Shah from PPP-P and Chaudhry Nisar Ali from PML-N had enjoyed both the positions simultaneously.  Whereas, the PTI government since coming into power opposed the agreement between two main opposition parties and is insisting to make opposition leader from the government side.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly refused to give top slot of PAC to Shahbaz Sharif.

The opposition side, after sensing the government’s stance, has also not budge an inch from its demand and also refused the National Assembly speaker’s request to give names from their parties for the standing committee of the ministries.

When contacted, PML-N’s leader Ahsan Iqbal said that the whole opposition is united that they would not give names for representation in the standing committee till the government side accept its demand. “We all have same stance that opposition leader should be the chairman of PAC,” he said, mentioning opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif would prove suitable for this slot. “Government should not try to break the good tradition set by the political parties,” he added.

Iqbal said that all the opposition parties would stay away from the parliamentary legislative bodies of the National Assembly if the government denied PAC chairmanship to Shehbaz Sharif.

Talking to The Nation, PPP-P’s lawmaker Shazia Marri said that the PTI government should follow the past tradition for appointing opposition leader as chairman PAC. She said PPP-P has also not given names for its representation in the standing committee to the speaker.

“We (PPP-P) will make our efforts to find a middle way to resolve the pending matter, as legislative business is suffering badly due absence of standing committees and PAC,” she said, mentioning PPP-P would try to convince both the main parties for better solution of this impasse.

Sources said that PPP-P Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also given the option to head the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but he plainly refused and put weight behind the old parliamentary tradition (to make opposition leader as chairman PAC).

The absence of standing committees was felt in the last two sessions of the National Assembly when there was no proper forum to refer the matter for permanent solution.

The lower house of parliament had discussed the matter about giving replies to the questions of MNAs by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The government and opposition had decided to resolve the matter in the concerned standing committee but so far matter could not be resolved due to absence of the parliamentary bodies.

Likewise, the matter regarding equal distribution of water to all the provinces could also not been sent to concerned committee because of the same issue.

The deadline, according to rules and procedures and conduct of the business in the House, has also been expired on September 18, 2018. MMA lawmaker Akbar Chitrali in the NA proceedings had also raised the matter about the expiration of a deadline of the standing committees.