ISLAMABAD - Setting aside the reservations of senior ruling party’s parliamentarians, the government has decided to dole out the slot of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairmanship to main opposition party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Shehbaz Sharif would be holding the slot.

The decision to this effect was taken in the parliamentary parties heads meeting with Speaker National Assembly Asad Qasir where it was agreed that the allocation of chairmanship of standing committees of National Assembly would be made on the old pattern. According to the decision taken in the meeting, the PTI-led ruling coalition would get the chairmanship of some 17 standing committees while opposition parties would be given the chairmanship of 16 standing committees including the Public Accounts Committee.

Out of the 16 chairmanship of the standing committees PML-N would get nine committees, PPP six and MMA would be given the chairmanship of one standing committee.

Earlier in the internal meeting of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf a sizeable number of party parliamentarians opposed doling out the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to PML-N, the major opposition party, on the pretext that the apex accountability apparatus of the Parliament would be examining into the irregularities of the ministries and departments in the period when Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was in power and questioned that how a PML-N man sitting as chairman PAC would examine and pinpoint these irregularities committed under their rule.

The decision to dole out the chairmanship of PAC to opposition is not a statutory obligation but it is made in the light of the Charter of Democracy signed by two major political parties — PPP and PML-N - in the past.

On the other hand, the opposition parties had taken very stiff stand on the issue and made it clear to Speaker National Assembly Asad Qasir that in case the government retains the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee then opposition parties would not become part of it, sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed.

The sources further informed that keeping in view the opposition parties stiff stand, the ruling PTI leadership has decided to avoid confrontation with the opposition parties and followed the old pattern of allocation of chairmanship of standing committees and also decided to let the Leader of Opposition decide about the chairmanship of PAC. The sources in PML-N informed The Nation that earlier in the day PML-N Parliamentary party meeting was held under the chair of Shehbaz Sharif and besides deciding on other matters the party MPs had decided with voice vote that Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif should hold the position of PAC chairman as it has been the practice for the past two terms.

Later, talking to media, PML-N spokesperson Maryum Aourangzeb confirmed that the PML-N meeting had unanimously decided that PAC chairmanship would be retained by Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif. The sources in the party informed that it was decided that Shehbaz Sharif would hold the position for three months and then he would nominate some senior PML-N leader to hold the position. Earlier, addressing the party legislators, Shehbaz Sharif said that they would keep a strict eye on the functioning of the government and would not let it deviate from the CPEC related projects.

He further said that they would also not let the government impose the local government system of its choice on the people of Punjab and would resist it and give stiff opposition to ruling party when and where they would found it deviating from the right path.

He said the opposition will ensure that parliament is the “only hope for the people of this country” and only through the parliament the people’s demands could be met. Lawmakers have not come to the legislature to get salaries and stage sit-ins, he was quoted as saying during the meeting. The PML-N members vowed to protect the local bodies system that had been introduced by their government, particularly in Punjab.