After much back and forth, the PTI-led government relented and agreed to the opposition’s demand on December 13. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced on the floor of the National Assembly that the PTI-led government “would not cause any hindrances” if Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition, wanted to head the much-coveted Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament. “In the larger interest of democracy we concede,” Qureshi added.
But since last month, senior leaders of the PTI are insisting that Sharif be shown the door, due to an ongoing corruption probe against him.
The most recent statement came from the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry who is quoted as saying that the government “was looking for legal ways to send” Sharif packing.
Can it be done? Under the law, can Shehbaz Sharif be removed from the chair of the most important standing committee? We ask Aasiya Riaz, the Joint Director of the Lahore-based think tank, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT):
“The business of national assembly is conducted according to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007 (modified up to December 17, 2018).
According to these Rules, any member of the committee, including the chair, can resign from membership of the committee by writing to the Speaker.
In addition, as per directions issued by the Speaker and included in the Rules No. 15(01)/2015-Com-I, a chairman of a Committee may be removed by a resolution passed by the majority of the members of a Committee, and on the passing of the resolution, the chairman shall stand removed from the office.
The PAC has 30 members, of which 12 are from the ruling PTI, 5 from the PML-N, 5 from the PPP, 3 Independents, 1 from the PML-Q, 1 BNP, 1 MQM-P, 1 MMA and 1 belongs to the JUI-F.