ISLAMABAD - The matter of doling out chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee was spinning into disarray as on one hand, the opposition was digging in heels deep and not ready to surrender its stake while on the other hand, the divide within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was deepening.

The people with hawkish tendency within the PTI were vehemently opposing the grant of PAC chairmanship to Leader of Opposition on the pretext that how Shehbaz Sharif would check the irregularities of the ministries and divisions during the period when his elder brother was in power.

They further contested that the move would be a setback to the government narrative of zero tolerance against corruption as under the chairmanship of Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, Public Accounts Committee could not do justice with its job of a watchdog on the government functioning.

While on the other hand, the doves in the PTI were of the view that for the smooth functioning of the Parliament and to keep the good traditions and norms, the slot of the PAC chairmanship should rest with the Leader of the Opposition.

Sources aware of the meetings held in this connection over the past couple of weeks said that the divide within the PTI on the issue had deepened instead of converging at some unified stand on the issue.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry is spearheading the campaign against doling out the PAC chairmanship to Leader of the Opposition while the National Assembly speaker and a sizeable number of senior party leaders are supportive of granting the slot to opposition.

They contested that as the government would be dominating the committee in number so they would not let the chairman go astray and he could not be in a position to do some favour or hush up irregularity on the part of any ministry or division in the presence of vigilant members from the treasury.

The sources informed The Nation that Prime Minister Imran Khan was leaning in favour of the National Assembly speaker but he has deferred the matter for the time being for more discussion and deliberations.

Some insiders in the PTI said that Premier Khan is actually waiting for the return of PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and after his return, a final decision on the issue would be made.

On the other hand, opposition parties are united on the issue and a message has been conveyed to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser that in case of government’s deviation from the laid down parliamentary norms of giving the PAC chairmanship to the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly, the opposition would not become part of the committee.

Parliamentary sources said that Speaker Asad Qaiser had assured the opposition members that he would convince the government to dole out the PAC chairmanship to the opposition.

The sources in PTI revealed that in a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser had taken up the issue of the PAC chairmanship with him and said that for smooth sailing in the Parliament, the government must not deviate from the laid down parliamentary norms.

The sources further said that the speaker had also taken up the rough and rude behaviour of the information minister with the opposition wherein he had to intervene to dilute the mounting tension by expunging the objectionable remarks of Fawad Chaudhry.

The PTI is having a thin majority in the Lower House of the Parliament while in Senate, the government is in minority, so for smooth sailing in both the houses, the government would have to be soft with the opposition.

Doling out chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly is not statutory obligation but it had been decided between the two major political parties — PPP and PML-N — in the Charter of Democracy these parties had signed in the past. During the past two governments of PPP and PML-N respectively, the position was held by the Leader of the Opposition.