Govt has no objection on Shahbaz as PAC’s chairman, Qureshi tells NA

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday told the National Assembly that the government has agreed in the larger interest of democracy and parliamentary norms that the opposition can choose Chairman Public Accounts Committee.
He said government with an open heart leaves this decision to Leader of the Opposition to nominate a person of his choice. But, if he deems himself appropriate for this role, then government will not have any objection on it. He appreciated the gesture of Prime Minister Imran Khan who had a big heart to not make this issue dragging. He said that the issue was resolved during his meeting with the prime minister, which was also attended by speaker Asad Qaiser, Pervez Khattak .
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the constitution of House committees is a very important matter for parliament to function effectively. He said the matter is still stuck on the issue of appointment of Leader of the Opposition as Chairman Public Accounts Committee. He said the opposition leader is embroiled in cases of National Accountability Bureau and the cases were not filed by this government. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said despite this we have made every effort to resolve this impasse.
Referring to the issue of PML-N Member Khawaja Saad Rafique, the Foreign Minister said requesting production orders for an MNA is due right of opposition and we respect that. He said the production orders of Leader of the Opposition were also issued earlier. He said this House belongs to all political parties and everyone should play a part in keeping its sanctity.
The Minister said members of government and opposition are elected by votes of people and it is their obligation to take part in legislation to meet the expectations of those who have brought them to this august House. He said working in the parliament requires political maturity on both sides of the aisles. Foreign Minister warned that if democracy is not allowed to run, then responsibility of its failure will fall on all of us. He offered the opposition to come forward and work collectively in the larger interest of the nation and democratic norms by not succumbing to personal and party interests.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the gesture of government, saying heading the Public Accounts Committee has been a tradition in the tenure of last two and three governments. This step will promote democratic norms and traditions and further solidify the institution of parliament. He also thanked all members who gave support to him on this issue. Shehbaz Sharif criticized the role of NAB and said it is a common sense that accountability process by the Bureau is highly selective. He said NAB is unable to prove any accusation against him so far. Shehbaz Sharif said he was summoned in Saaf Paani case but implicated in Ashiana Housing Scheme. He said the Bureau has so far failed to provide any incriminating evidence against him.
Earlier, he demanded the Speaker that production orders for PML-N Member Khawaja Saad Rafique be issued. The Speaker said this matter is being considered and production orders can be issued only after exploring all the legal aspects of the issue.
Speaking in the House, senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party Raja Pervez Ashraf appreciated the move of the government on the issue of appointment of Chairman Public Accounts Committee. He said the parliament will become fully functional now after this crucial step and it will play its due role of legislation. Raja Pervez Ashraf said everyone has a role to increase the prestige and respect of the House.
Maulana Asad Mehmood of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal termed it a step in the right direction. Welcoming the government decision, he assured that his party will extend full cooperation to run the house effectively.
Appreciating the decision of appointment of the Leader of the Opposition as Chairman Public Accounts Committee, former Speaker National Assembly and PML-N’s leader Ayaz Sadiq said role of treasury members is appreciable for resolving the source of impasse in parliament. He also thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for reviewing his position on the issue. Ayaz Sadiq said we must call a spade and spade. He said Public Accounts Committee only discusses the audit paras and it is not NAB, FIA or any other investigation agency. He said government enjoys majority in Public Accounts Committee and its chairman has only one vote. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said Shahbaz Sharif had a clear stance that he will not chair the meeting in which the audit paras of previous government are discussed. He hoped that committees will be formed soon in order to compensate the loss of delay.
Opposition staged a walkout till the issuance of production orders of Khawaja Saad Rafique. The House has now been adjourned to meet again at 10.30 am on Friday.

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