ISLAMABAD - The government and opposition are likely to be up in arms over the distribution of chairmanships of National Assembly standing committees, which has been pending for the last couple of months.
The government, though after extraordinary delay in the formation of NA committees, has decided to fix the longstanding issue in the next week of October but the decided share would hardly be accepted to major opposition parties.
The main opposition parties include PPP-P and PTI, which are offensively in a mood to give tough time to the government, especially after the lapse of the much-talked-about ‘honeymoon period’ - the first 100 days of PML-N government.
The PML-N government had already missed the one-month constitutional deadline for the formation of standing committees and finally it was approved in the 4th session of the National Assembly without deciding the chairmanship.
It is relevant here the NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq had ‘justified’ the delay by using additional time for the budget sessions as an excuse. The extra days consumed in the budget session would not be included in the 30-day legal deadline set for notifying heads of standing committees, he argued in the house.
While, as per parliamentary rules, “Each committee shall consist of not more than 17 members to be elected by the assembly within 30 days after the ascertainment of the leader of the house”.
When contacted, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said this matter will be resolved in the next week of this month and tentative chairmanship has been decided from government side. About Party-wise share of chairmanship, Sheikh Aftab shared that Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) will keep 17 ministry’s headship in its possession. Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) will be given four, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) three, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) two, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) one, and FATA parliamentarian one.
To a question about reservations of PPP-P and PTI, the minister hoped the government and opposition parties would settle this matter amicably. “Minister for Interior Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan and Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah will deliberate on the issue in this week,” he informed. It would also be not out of place to mention here that both PPP-P and PTI have clearly flaunted its reservations over distribution of the headships of NA committees.
Sources said that Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah had clearly criticised the share of his party with the argument that If JUI-F with less number of lawmaker could take headship of two committees than PPP-P’s should be given chairmanship of five or six.
Talking to this scribe, a PPP-P’s legislator said the incumbent government should properly follow rules and give proper share to opposition parties. “PPP-P in its era had given proper share to PML-N and same practice should be repeated this time,” he added. It is pertinent to mention here PTI’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mehmood Quershi time and again on the floor of the house had asked for the formation and functioning of standing committees.
The number of standing committees in the previous National Assembly stood at 45 whereas there were 11 special committees, nine parliamentary committees and one select committee on information technology & telecommunications on prevention of electronic crime bill 2010.
However, this time the number of committees will be less than the previous assembly. With the PML-N government’s initiative to merge several ministries, the number of standing committees has shrunk to 28.
The NA committees play important role of oversight and keep checks on the workings of relevant government ministries. In parliamentary democracies, the committees are regarded as the eyes, ears, hands and brain of the Parliament.