Speculations are rife among treasury and opposition benches as the date for elections to fill the long vacant post of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly deputy speaker nears.
However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government and its allies have yet to decide over their nominee. According to the announcement made by Speaker Asad Qaiser on Friday, the last date to submit forms is December 21 and voting will take place on the following day.
Referring to the PTI government’s chosen candidate, K-P Government Spokesperson and Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information and Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani said the situation would become clearer over the next two days.
“Consultations are under way between party leaders and lawmakers who have to vote for the candidate,” he said. Ghani added PTI chief Imran Khan is also being consulted and coalition partners of the government are part of the meetings.
Insiders suggested that former special assistant to chief minister on social welfare and women development Dr Mehar Taj Roghani, who hails from Mardan, is a key contender for the seat. However, there were others with their eye on the vacant slot ever since former deputy speaker Imtiaz Qureshi left it for the law ministry.
Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Law Arif Yousaf was the first possible candidate for the seat when it was vacated on October 8, 2014. At the time, Mehmood Jan, PTI lawmaker from Peshawar, was said to be nominated and elected. However, this did not transpire. Shortly after this, the name of Kohat MPA Dina Naz, who is parliamentary secretary on social welfare and women development, emerged as one of the possibilities. Parliamentary secretary on Anti-Corruption Establishment and Provincial Inspection Team, Dr Haider Ali’s was also in the running.
However, Ali had denied this information. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said, “My name is being mentioned as a nominee for a long time. However, I am not in the running for the post.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker from Peshawar Arbab Akbar Hayat would submit his nomination papers.
“Everything is possible in PTI,” Jan said when asked about his chances. He added Roghani had more of a chance, but did not dismiss his possible nomination or that of any of the other aforementioned names. “I am a soldier of Imran Khan and I will accept any decision of his.”
Reservations on Roghani
According to insiders, some provincial PTI leaders, including the speaker himself, have reservations over the nomination of Roghani for the slot. “She is a pretty straightforward woman and leaders feel that she will create problems once in the chair,” he said, requesting anonymity.
“K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and others run assembly matters very cautiously, setting aside volatile issues and quashing those that can be used against the government by the opposition.
It is feared that Roghani’s appointment may be problematic for the party running the assembly.” The source said some leaders have requested for a revision of any decision regarding her nomination. An active member of the cabinet confirmed the reservations over Roghani’s appointment, but also requested not to be named.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2015.