By Khalid Kheshgi
PESHAWAR: Dr Meher Taj Roghani, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Member Provincial Assembly and Special Assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister, has bright chances of becoming the first woman deputy speaker of the province as she submitted nomination papers for the office on Monday. The election for the deputy speaker’s office, lying vacant for the last 14 months, would be held today. The combined opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has fielded Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Arbab Akbar Hayat for the office.
Dr Meher Taj Roghani is the candidate of the ruling alliance — PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP). Her nomination papers were proposed and seconded by provincial Minister Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli and Adviser to Chief Minister for Minority Affairs Suran Singh, respectively. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha and Awami National Party lawmaker Jaffar Shah proposed and seconded the papers of Arbab Akbar Hayat for the position of deputy speaker.
The deputy speaker’s office became vacant on October 15, 2014 when the then Deputy Speaker Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi resigned from the office and took oath as Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs.
Belonging to the Mardan district, the 63-year-old Dr Meher Taj Roghani, a senior paediatrician, was elected to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on one of the reserved seats for women on the PTI quota. She was inducted into the provincial cabinet as a special assistant to chief minister on social welfare and women development.
The ruling alliance has a total strength of 79 lawmakers, including 61 of the PTI, 10 of QWP, 6 MPAs of Jamaat-e-Islami and two independents. The opposition parties have 45 MPAs in the 123-member house.
Dr Meher Taj Roghani can easily win the deputy speaker election if the disgruntled MPAs within the PTI support the party nominee. Some of the PTI MPAs, including a female lawmaker, had hinted at fielding their own candidate for the office, but that move has fizzled out.
Talking to The News, Dr Meher Taj Roghani said she enjoyed complete support of the ruling alliance, including the PTI MPAs, and was confident of winning the election easily. However, she requested the opposition parties to withdraw their candidate in order to set a good tradition in favour of a female candidate.
“I am the unanimous candidate of the treasury benches having no resistance from my party lawmakers,” she added.Opposition leader and parliamentary party leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F Maulana Lutf-ur-Rehman said that Arbab Akbar Hayat was their joint candidate and all the opposition parties would vote and support him in the election. However, he lamented the unnecessary delay in holding the polls for the deputy speaker.
The ruling alliance, particularly the PTI, didn’t hold the polls for deputy speaker apparently due to concern that their candidate may not be able to win in presence of disgruntled PTI’s MPAs.