New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has invited Pakistan Senate Chair Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani to India in December, for a function to mark the centennial of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

PAC, the oldest parliamentary committee in India, is responsible for ensuring executive accountability.

The two-day function to mark its centennial will be inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on 4 December. The valedictory session, the next day, is likely to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The senate is Pakistan’s upper house of Parliament. Birla invited Sanjrani through a letter dated 24 August.

A senior official in the Lok Sabha Secretariat, who did not want to be named, said that invites have gone out to all Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan. “PAC heads of all the Commonwealth countries have been invited,” the official added.

India and Pakistan have not had diplomatic ties since 2019, when Islamabad downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi following the scrapping of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

There has been a slight thaw in ties since earlier this year, when the countries decided to honour the 2003 ceasefire along their tense border. However, latest reports from the border suggest fresh attempts to push terrorists into India.

What Does PAC Do

According to the Lok Sabha website, the PAC’s mandate is to examine the statement of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for the expenditure of the Government of India, the annual finance accounts of the government, and such other accounts laid before the House as the committee may think fit.

Currently, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, heads the PAC.

Chowdhury said, “Yes, we have sent out invites to all Commonwealth countries. Pakistan is also part of the Commonwealth and hence the invite. We took the MEA into confidence before sending out the invites.”

Chowdhury, however, said they are yet to get confirmation on who all among the Commonwealth countries will be participating in the two-day event.