PAC to stop working, warns Nisar -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PAC to stop working, warns Nisar

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: In a shocking move, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan threatened on Tuesday that his committee would stop working from next Monday onward after accusing the top guns of the National Assembly Secretariat of creating hurdles in its smooth functioning.

This is first time since the institution of the PAC under the 1973 Constitution that its chairman and members have accused bosses of the NA Secretariat of non-cooperation and threatened not to meet from next week.

It would be interesting to note that only one month back, Chaudhry Nisar had paid rich tributes to the PAC Secretariat staff ‘for burning midnight oil and working untiringly’ to compile three bulky annual reports which he had presented in the National Assembly. But, on Tuesday, the same Chaudhry Nisar was so disgusted with them that he threatened to stop work and wrap up the PAC from next week, as he believed that the staff did not live up to his expectations.

Other members of the PAC – Hamid Hiraj, Zahid Hamid, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Aftab Shaban Mirani – remained silent which gave a clear indication that they were in agreement with their chairman. However, PPP MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan tried to argue with Chaudhry Nisar, saying he had met NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, who had promised to extend all sorts of cooperation, but Nisar was unmoved.

The sorry turn in the PAC did not come as a surprise to media persons, who were regularly covering the committee meetings. They felt that several members had already lost interest and stopped attending the meetings in recent months. The apathy and lack of interest of PAC members was visible to everyone as one could see hardly four to five members attending the meetings regularly. The otherwise most powerful committee of the lower house had 20 members but usually five to six members attended a meeting whenever held.

The dramatic announcement of calling it a day was made by the chairman PAC in the presence of media persons, the auditor general of Pakistan and top federal bureaucracy. He made no bones about his annoyance with the attitude of the top guns of the National Assembly Secretariat. He accused them of not giving him the proper staff to run the committee. Nisar did not name anyone who was creating hurdles in the way of the committee, but it was obvious that he was referring to Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and the secretary National Assembly.

The immediate reaction of the NA Secretariat was not available as Dr Miraz was already on a foreign trip, along with a dozen of parliamentarian, notwithstanding the fact that the NA was in session and usually parliamentary delegations were discouraged from proceedings abroad when the House was in session.

The rift between the PAC and the NA Secretariat had started surfacing last week when Senior Joint Secretary Tahir Hanfi had refused to attend the meeting on the grounds that he was holding the additional charge and could not perform two duties at the same time. He had asked the NA bosses to give him due promotion to deal with the PAC.

Likewise, a woman officer, Romana Kakar, who had joined the NA Secretariat from Balochistan on deputation, attended the PAC meeting just for one day, but did not return afterwards. Reportedly, she was stopped from attending a course in a foreign country on the grounds that she was on deputation. She had desperately tried to convince the authorities to let her proceed abroad, as she belonged to smaller province Balochistan and should get a chance to learn something to improve her capacity. But her desperate appeals and pleas had fallen on deaf ears, as she was not allowed to proceed to attend the course. Out of sheer frustration, she also stopped coming to the PAC meeting.

One deputy secretary working in the PAC Secretariat was also not coming to meetings and when Nisar tried to know the reason about his absence on Tuesday, he was told that the officer was supposed to do monitoring work of the PAC and not to attend the meeting. Nisar wondered how could an officer without sitting in the PAC meeting monitor the follow up activities.

One source said, PAC officials were unhappy with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as he used to make public comments about them in the presence of media persons and the auditor general of Pakistan and bureaucracy, as they expected of him to call an internal meeting of the staff and discuss these issues instead of going public to humiliate them.
Source: The News
Date:3/17/2010