–Rana Tanveer to head apex accountability body while Khawaja Asif has been appointed PML-N’s parliamentary leader
–Marriyum Aurangzeb says Shehbaz Sharif will continue to be opposition leader in NA
–Firdous says Shehbaz wouldn’t have appointed someone else in his stead if he was thinking of coming back to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) decision to appoint Rana Tanveer as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman replacing party president Shehbaz Sharif has raised many an eyebrow, leading to speculations of a potential deal and whether the National Assembly opposition leader would return to the country.
According to a statement released by the PML-N media cell, Shehbaz “was never keen to become PAC chairman and only accepted the position on the insistence of joint opposition and parliamentary advisory group”. The statement, however, shied away from giving any reason for his decision to quit the post.
Tanveer was made the PAC chairman after approval by Shehbaz Sharif, whereas Khawaja Asif has been nominated as parliamentary leader. His name was forwarded by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Announcing the decision, Abbasi said that Asif’s appointment as the parliamentary leader was made in accordance with Shehbaz’s wishes.
The PML-N’s media cell elaborated that “Shehbaz made the decision [to relinquish the PAC and parliamentary leader’s roles] after consultation with party supremo Nawaz Sharif”.
Amid rumours, this decision has also raised a question on Shehbaz’s future as the NA opposition leader.
According to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, the former Punjab chief minister will continue to be the opposition leader.
Marriyum said that “the joint opposition, under Shehbaz’s leadership, will keep on playing its role in exposing the government’s inability and inefficiency”.
However, PML-N Senator Kulsoom Parveen claimed that if Shehbaz — who is in London for treatment — does not get better then there are chances that he would relinquish the seat of the opposition leader.
Senator Parveen said that the opposition leader should be a person who can stand up and talk in the National Assembly and if Shehbaz is ill then he might leave the position. “Only a strong person can speak about people’s problems in the parliament. Not everyone is capable of doing that,” she said.
WILL SHEHBAZ RETURN?
After the sudden change of in the PAC chairmanship, the government claimed that the opposition leader won’t be coming back to the country.
Talking to a private news channel, PM’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Aashiq Awan raised questions on the timing of the decision, saying Shehbaz wouldn’t have appointed someone else in his stead if he was thinking of coming back.
“Sharifs divide these positions within the family. If they have started appointing people outside the family to these positions, it indicates this is the first step towards an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance],” Firdous said.
Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who had opposed the decision of appointing Shehbaz as PAC chief in the past, tried to cash in on the current scenario.
He said: “I had already said earlier that Shehbaz Sharif will not return… A few people whose hearts have softened towards the opposition should pay back the country from their own pockets. Decisions like these have hurt the trust of the entire nation. People will grab our collars if we fail to hold people accountable.”
However, the PML-N contested the government’s claims.
Former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair claimed that the party chief would be returning before the end of Ramzan. He ruled out reports that the former Punjab CM won’t come back to Pakistan.
“Shehbaz Sharif will return by the end of Ramzan,” he claimed while talking to a private news channel.
Shehbaz became the chairman of the apex accountability committee in December last year after a months-long tussle between the government and opposition lawmakers.
The PML-N had refused to nominate another member from the party to head the PAC, arguing that according to parliamentary tradition, the leader of the opposition should become chairman of this committee. Eventually, the PTI caved in and agreed to appoint Shehbaz as the PAC head.