By: Mohammad Ashfaq
PESHAWAR: Professor Mehar Taj Roghani of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was elected deputy speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday, the first woman elected to the post. She defeated PML-N candidate Arbab Akbar Hayat.
The post has been lying vacant for over 14 months after Imtiaz Shahid resigned on Oct 15 last year.
Dr Roghani, a prominent paediatrician, secured 77 votes and Mr Hayat 37 in the 124-member house.
Speaker Asad Qaiser administered oath of office to the new deputy speaker soon after the announcement of the result.
Prof Roghani, who had served as provincial health minister during the military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf, was working as adviser to the chief minister.
Four votes were rejected while Bakht Baidar Khan’s vote was cancelled by Speaker Asad Qaiser for having shown it to Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
There are 77 members of the ruling alliance – PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami and Qaumi Watan Party – in the assembly while 44 members belong to opposition parties – JUI-F, PML-N, PPP and Awami National Party. Two MPAs were elected as independent candidates.
The imprisoned former minister for mines and minerals Ziaullah Afridi, former adviser on sports and culture Amjid Afridi and Maleeha Ali did not attend the session.
MPA Dr Haider Ali Khan of the PTI was the polling agent for Prof Roghani and Sobia Shahid of the PML-N for Arbab Akbar Hayat.
Polling was stopped for some time because of a disturbance caused by the showing of ballot paper by PTI’s Arif Yousaf to the polling agent of Ms Roghani. The house turned noisy as the opposition lawmakers gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and asked him to cancel the vote of the members who had shown their ballot papers to others.
The opposition lawmakers ended the protest when the speaker assured them that the next ballot paper, if shown to anyone, would be cancelled.
Dr Mehar Roghani said in her speech after taking oath that there would now be no gender discrimination among the members. “I will treat you equally like a mother treats her children.”
Leader of the Opposition Maulana Lutfur Rehman said the election for the post of deputy speaker should have been held 14 months ago when the seat had fallen vacant. “We should run this assembly according to its rules and regulation,” he added.
Nighat Yasmeen Oragzai of the PPP said: “With the election of a woman as deputy speaker I hope there will be no more gender discrimination in the house.”
Arbab Akbar Hayat congratulated Dr Roghani on her election as the first women deputy speaker.
The speaker adjourned the session to Jan 8.