ISLAMABAD: Auditor General of Pakistan Muhammad Akhtar Buland Rana on Tuesday told the Public Accounts Committee that the AGP and its staff were unable to present audit observations of previous regime in front of any former minister, because “no person can be judge of his own cause”.
The AGP said, “In British parliamentary system PAC has an important role and they take up audit observations of the current year for continuation of democracy and PAC in UK. The opposition leader headed PAC because it is in relation to the current year. The objective of the accountability may be obtained when the PAC is unbiased and it is not related to their tenure.”
The AGP further said that he wanted to make the parliamentary oversight and parliamentary accountability strengthened and unbiased and give proper decisions over financial irregularities by any government’s department.
“Currently, in the PAC there is a possibility that any former minister may discuss audit reports of his previous ministry and also make decisions over it in capacity of chairman of PAC or convener of any of its sub-committee. Such decisions, he said will be totally against justice because “no person can be the judge of his own cause”, said AGP in this regard, and wrote a letter to PAC to no response.
Rana said that the ADP and its staff would not be able to discuss any audit reports or observations in front of the PAC chairman or any other convener who was a minister in the previous regime due to these observations. National Assembly speaker (custodian of the house) took matters up, awaiting decisions and showed his inability to discuss the audit observations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the year 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
After giving his statement, the AGP wished to leave the PAC meeting but Chairman PAC Khurshid Shah intervened and asked him to listen members’ point of view. “We take the AGP matters in-camera meeting of the PAC but today the AGP raised this issue not only in PAC but also in front of media.”
The PAC chairman and members belonged to different political parties strongly reacted and termed AGP’s statement inappropriate. Although the AGP has constitutional status but no civil servant was allowed interference in parliamentary affairs. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members of the PAC posed full confidence over PAC Chairman Khurshid Shah. They unanimously said that the PAC worked for the country’s interest keeping aside political affiliation.
PAC member Sardar Ashiq Hussain Gopang of PML-N, speaking on the occasion said that all political parties’ representations exist in the committee and all are independent. He termed AGP’s statement disrespectful to the entire PAC in a polite manner. He said, “this is unbearable for me”. Another member of PML-N Shaikh Rohale Asghar was of the view that all decisions in the PAC were made on merit beyond political affiliation. Mian Abdul Manan of PML-N said he was shocked over hearing the AGP’s statement. Raja Javed Akhlas of the ruling party said that the PAC is running according to the law.
PPP member Syed Naved Qamar questioned why such issue was not raised during the previous tenure. PAC chairman was also ex-federal minister. He termed the statement of AGP as a breach of privilege of the entire PAC. He advised the AGP to take his statement back. Another PPP member Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that the AGP’s objection was a bit of a surprise for the committee. The objection should have arrived on the first day of the PAC and termed that the statement is a case of tit for tat. She said, “I am not in favour of a confrontation with the AGP office but this is violation of rule.”
PTI member Shafqat Mehmood said that there were tremendous efforts for making opposition leaders as PAC chairman and he expressed full confidence over the chairmanship of Khurshid Shah. He said, “no one would be allowed to talk above the law.” Arif Alvi said, “No one would be allowed challenge any parliamentarian’s competence.”
Later, the PAC chairman along with some members met with National Assembly speaker and discussed the matter with him.
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