ISLAMABAD: The fragile ruling coalition has suffered a blow as one of its partners, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has decided to boycott the recently-constituted committees of the National Assembly.
The urban Sindh-based MQM has directed all its members not to attend the upcoming meetings of the committees for elections of their chairpersons starting from Monday (tomorrow), sources in the party told Dawn.
According to the sources, the MQM has taken this decision to show its resentment and anger over the composition of the committees as well as refusal of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to give chairmanship of the choice committees to the MQM. The ruling party has offered the MQM the chairmanship of the standing committee on statistics, which the party has refused.
Aminul Haque says Muttahida members have not been given representation in committees according to their choice
The MQM, the sources said, had initially demanded the chairmanship of three important committees — human rights, interior and energy. However, later the party agreed to withdraw its demand for the chairmanship of the committee on human rights when it was told that this committee was being offered to opposition parties.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is set to become the head of the NA Functional Committee on Human Rights.
Presently, MQM convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui is a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet and holds the portfolio of information technology and telecommunication.
When contacted, MQM MNA from Karachi Syed Aminul Haque confirmed that the party had stopped its members from attending the meetings of the standing committees for the time being and they would not participate in the elections of the chairpersons of the committees starting from Monday.
Mr Haque said that the party members had not been given representation in the committees according to their choice and, therefore, they believed that it would be useless for them to sit in the committees meetings.
In response to a question, Mr Haque without elaborating said the party had developed “some serious differences” with the ruling PTI.
According to the sources, an understanding between the government and the opposition has already been reached on the distribution of the chairmanship of 38 standing committees.
Under the agreed formula, the chairmanship of 18 committees would go to the opposition while the remaining 20 committees would be headed by the ruling PTI and its allies.
Speaker Asad Qaiser had last week constituted remaining 36 standing and functional committees of the National Assembly, completing the process in almost six months after creation of the present assembly.
Meanwhile, the NA Secretariat has issued a schedule of the committees’ meetings for the election of their chairpersons.
The elections of the heads of seven committees will be held on Monday (tomorrow).
The members of the committees on defence production, communications, maritime affairs, narcotics control, overseas Pakistan and human resources development and religious affairs and interfaith harmony will be electing their chairpersons in the first phase. The process of the elections of the chairpersons of all the committees will be completed on Feb 14.
When contacted, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that the MQM had not formally informed the government about their decision to boycott the committees. He said that he had talked to Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who had also expressed his ignorance about the MQM’s decision. He, however, expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved when the MQM would raise it officially with the government at any forum.