ISLAMABAD   -  The government and opposition on Thursday finally reached a consensus to start legislation business in the National Assembly, as the former agreed to allow Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif to head the Public Account Committee.

The opposition welcomed the government decision about PAC chairmanship but staged a walkout from the lower house of parliament for not issuing the ‘production order’ of Khawaja Saad Rafique.

The legislative business remained suspended for over three months due to non-formation of standing committees of the National Assembly. This was caused by the prolonged deadlock between the treasury and the opposition over the chairmanship of the PAC.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to accept opposition demand and give the chairmanship of PAC to Shehbaz Sharif.

“This decision was taken in the best interest of the country to run the parliamentary business and end the deadlock... [and now] we leave it at Shehbaz Sharif to take the final decision,” he added.

Opposition Leader in NA Shehbaz Sharif in his response said they were interested in making the house meaningful. “Opposition only wants to follow Charter of Democracy (CoD) and this tradition should continue,” he said.

He mentioned that he was nominated by the joint opposition to lead accountability body. “I am not interested [in this position as of myself, but] as joint opposition nominated me, I will follow their decision,” he added.

Talking about NAB cases against him and his party colleagues, he alleged “There is an unholy alliance between NAB [National Accountability Bureau] and PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf].”

“It is no rocket science, as Imran Khan Niazi in the helicopter case and defence minister in Malam Jabba land case were not being touched by NAB,” he said.

The opposition leader challenged the NAB to prove corruption of even a penny against him. “I will leave politics if corruption is proved against me,” he wowed.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak clarified that there was no corruption in Malam Jabba case. “They [just] want to see me behind the bars... I can also blame opposition members but it would be better not to interfere in NAB matters,” he said.

Former National Assembly speaker and PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq requested the chair to play his role and issue production order of Saad Rafique.

Speaker Asad Qaiser said that he would consult law ministry over issuance of production order for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Saad Rafique.

Ayaz said, “I congratulate Imran Khan for taking a positive U-turn this time by agreeing on the name of Shehbaz Sharif as chairman PAC... If he continues to taking such U-turns, democracy will be strengthened.”

He assured that Shehbaz would not chair PAC meeting during the committee’s review of audit objections regarding the PML-N. However he announced to walk out from the proceedings over non issuance of production order of Saad Rafique. All the opposition parties also joined the PML-N and left the house in protest.

Earlier during his speech, PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf lauded the efforts of the speaker in resolving the PAC chairmanship issue. He further requested the chair to issue production order of Khwaja Saad Rafique.

Other opposition parties also lauded the decision of government for resolving the issue of parliamentary committees.

Later talking to mediamen at the Parliament House, Pervez Khattak said the government had accepted Shehbaz Sharif as Chairman of PAC keeping in view the parliamentary traditions. He said there was no compulsion for the government rather it wanted to run the House according to parliamentary traditions.

A government delegation led by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak also met Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and discussed matters related to formation of standing committees and legislation.

 

Fawad opposes concession to Shehbaz

 Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has opposed giving chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.

Talking to media, Fawad said “Making the younger brother (Shehbaz Sharif) PAC chairman to audit the projects of elder brother (Nawaz Sharif) is technically wrong.”

He alleged that the opposition is not letting the assembly function properly, adding that it is putting hurdles in the way of constituting committees.

He said the Speaker should form standing committees without opposition because despite making Shehbaz PAC chairman the opposition won’t let the House function.

 

Govt concedes PAC headship to Shehbaz

 

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN