PML-N internal discord keeping NA committees dormant
16 October, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The internal strife in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has blocked functioning of the standing committees of the National Assembly, despite the passage of over four months since the new House was sworn in.
The standing committees of the House were constituted around one and half months back. However, the simple formality of electing their chairman has not been completed so far despite the presentation of the names by the opposition parties. According to parliamentary sources, the lists of the government members of the House were finalised some time back by State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed.
However, some powerful ministers in the cabinet want their blue-eyed candidates to head some important committees and remove some of the names proposed by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had particularly intervened when he proposed names of his own people to head these committees against those who have been finalised earlier. Though the final approval is to be given by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, this internal infighting has delayed the process.
The standing committees are key part of parliament, especially by virtue of their input in legislation as well as their role in oversight of different government miniseries and departments. Above all, the role of parliament to check corruption in the country through its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also come to standstill because of the delay in election of chairperson of the committees.
As per the strength of the political parties in National Assembly, the PML-N will head seventeen standing committees followed by largest opposition party Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that will chair four committees, with the key PAC chairpersonship with it.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will head three committees, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will chair two. It may be recalled the government first missed the July 5 deadline for making the standing committees functional and was only able to constitute the committees at the fag end of the month of August contrary to assembly rules. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has to constitute standing committees within 30 days after the election of the prime minister.
The parliamentary sources told that the National Assembly Secretariat has nothing to do with the election of chairpersonship of the committees and is only waiting for the approval of the government to convene the committees' meeting and hold their election.