By: Saleem Shahid
QUETTA: Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani was elected unopposed speaker of the Balochistan Assembly on Thursday. She became the first woman speaker of the provincial assembly.
Presiding officer Syed Liaquat Agha administered the oath to the new speaker.
The seat had been lying vacant since May following resignation by Jan Mohammad Jamali.
Earlier, the Balochistan Assembly unanimously elected Sanaullah Zehri as chief minister of the province. The chief minister, in his speech after taking oath of his office, said he would invite angry Baloch leaders to come to the negotiating table, but would never compromise on their “terrorist activities”.
Ms Durrani, who belongs to the PML-N, and Mufti Gulab Khan of the JUI-F had filed nomination papers for the post.
Later the presiding officer rejected the papers of Mufti Gulab Khan saying that he had filed them after the expiry of deadline.
Following rejection of nomination papers of Mufti Gulab Khan, Ms Durrani was declared elected unopposed as speaker.
But leader of the opposition Maulana Abdul Wasey claimed at a news conference that the JUI-F had withdrawn its candidate in favour of Ms Durrani because “we wanted to get her elected as a consensus speaker”.
Ms Durrani was elected member of the Balochistan Assembly on a seat reserved for women in the 2013 general election.
She has been elected to the assembly thrice and served as a provincial minister in the Aslam Raisani cabinet from 2008 to 2013.
Ms Durrani is a law graduate and started her career as a journalist working for a local English daily. She also practises as a lawyer in the Balochistan High Court.
In her speech after taking oath of office, she said it was a great honour for her to become the first woman speaker of the Balochistan Assembly.
“I attribute my success to my mother and other mothers of Balochistan,” she said.
Ms Durrani said she would fulfil her responsibility according to rules of business. “I will raise the dignity and honour of the house with the help and cooperation of members,” she added.
She expressed the hope that members of he assembly belonging to both treasury and opposition benches would cooperate with her in running the house smoothly.
Former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch congratulated the new speaker and assured her that his party would cooperate with her in running the house according to democratic traditions.
He expressed the hope that as custodian of the house Ms Durrani would take steps that would increase the honour of the house.
He said by electing a female candidate as speaker members of the assembly have showed that they had great honour for women.
Chief Minister-designate Nawab Sanaullah Zehri said the credit for electing a female candidate for the speaker’s post went to the people Balochistan who traditionally had great honour for woman.
He said the entire house and the collation government would support efforts of the speaker she would make to enhance the honour and dignity of the house.
Leader of the opposition Maulana Abdul Wasey expressed the hope that Ms Durrani would not adopt discriminatory attitude with members of the opposition as done by the pervious speaker and government while setting up standing committees. He assured full cooperation to the speaker.