ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday told the National Assembly that Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to give free hand to the opposition to choose chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the larger interest of democracy and parliamentary norms.Speaking on the floor of the Lower House, Qureshi said government and the opposition have reached a consensus on letting Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif chair the Public Accounts Committee. “Government is leaving the decision to the opposition leader to propose a name as per his choice for the coveted position. If, however, the opposition leader choses to nominate himself for the role, the government will not object to it,” the foreign minister added. As the assembly session concluded, Federal Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan met with Shehbaz Sharif in his chamber. Following the highly significant meeting, it emerged that the government was ready to let Shehbaz chair the committee, while a subcommittee would be constituted comprising PTI parliamentarians. While confirming the development, Khattak said the decision was taken in the best interest of democracy and to ensure an uninterrupted functioning of the Lower House.It is pertinent to mention here that in the previous political setups of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), a parliamentary tradition was set to allow the opposition to hold the top position of the PAC. Nevertheless, the PTI government had been severely reluctant in past to consent Shehbaz’s name owing to ongoing corruption investigations against him by the NAB. Few days earlier, the ruling party had decided to make a fresh contact with the opposition parties to break the deadlock over the issue. Qureshi said the constitution of committees of the House was a very important matter for the parliament to function effectively. “Shehbaz Sharif is embroiled in several National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases which have not been filed by the current government. Despite this, we have made every effort to resolve this impasse,” he added.Referring to the issue of PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique, the foreign minister said requesting production orders for an MNA is due right of the opposition. He said the production orders of the leader of the opposition were issued several times. He said the House belongs to all political parties and everyone should play a part in keeping its sanctity. “Members of government and opposition are elected by votes of the people and it is their obligation to take part in legislation to meet the expectations of those who have brought them to this august House,” Qureshi said, adding that working in the parliament requires political maturity on both sides of the aisles. “If democracy is not allowed to run, then responsibility of its failure will fall on all of us,” he warned, and offered the opposition to come forward and work collectively in the larger interest of the nation and democratic norms by not succumbing to personal and party interests.Appreciating the government offer, Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif said he would quit parliament if NAB proved corruption of even a single penny against him. He claimed that the PTI government and NAB enjoyed an un-detachable bond, adding that even a man with no brain can see how people were being subjected to accountability. He said the bureau began a probe into the Ashiana Housing Scheme in January this year but has not filed a reference against him yet. Commenting on the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Shehbaz said it was stated that there was NAB’s obstacle in the way of his becoming chairman of the committee. “Didn’t that obstacle lie in the way of those sitting on the treasury benches,” he questioned. “Is there not a helicopter case pending against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members,” he further asked. The PPP and PML-N signed the Charter of Democracy, he said, adding that keeping it in view, he had suggested the Imran Khan-led government to work together to strengthen economy and alleviate poverty.PML-N stalwart and National Assembly former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq hailed the PTI-led government’s decision to agree to the name of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif for the chairmanship of the PAC. He said treasury members role to break the deadlock over the PAC chairman’s appointment was laudable. He thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for reviewing his position on the issue. However, Ayaz Sadiq announced to stage a walkout for not issuing production orders of Khawaja Saad Rafiq, adding that they would not sit in the House until his production orders are issued by the speaker.The House adjourned to meet again on Friday (today) at 10:30 am.Published in Daily Times, December 14th 2018.