July 29th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha & Ahmed Saeed
The appointment of Nilofar Bakhtiar as chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has been mired in controversy when opposition members of a parliamentary panel claimed that the majority of the members had voted for appointment of a rival candidate Fauzia Viqar.
According to a notification from the Ministry of Human Rights on 28th July, Nilofar Bakhtiar, a former federal minister and PTI’s Central Joint Secretary, was appointed as chairperson of the NCSW. “The Prime Minister is pleased to approve the appointment of Ms Nilofar Bakhtiar as Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) for a term of three years from the date on which she enters upon her office,” reads the notification.
The National Assembly Speaker had constituted a 12-member Parliamentary Committee on appointment of the NCSW Chairperson, headed by Senator Falak Naz, to fill the constitutional post which was vacant for over two years.
PPP MNA Nafisa Shah, a member of the parliamentary committee, said appointment of Nilofar Bakhtiar as the NCSW chairperson was unlawful because majority of the committee’s members had voted for Fauzia Viqar. “#NilofarBakhtiar lost the election for #Chairperson of the Womens Commission. Yet she has been notified as the #Chairperson which is unlawful,” she tweeted on Thursday.
The PPP MNA said the majority of the members had voted for Fauzia Viqar in the committee’s meeting held on June 15. “This is daylight robbery of law and contempt against the parliament! In the election of the #NCSW Chairperson, 6 votes were cast in favour of #FauziaViqar and 5 for #NiloferBakhtiar. How can this be reversed? What a blatant lie!,” she wrote in her earlier tweet on Wednesday.
“This is blatant violation of the Parliamentary committee’s decision. Election for Chairperson #NCSW was held in which #FauziaViqar got 6 votes and #NiloferBakhtiar got 5 votes . This is not Acceptable!,” wrote PML-N Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, another opposition member on the parliamentary committee, in her tweet on Thursday.
“In our meeting to confirm the Chairperson of National Commission on Status of Women, 6 members voted for opposition nominee Fozia Viqar, 5 for PTI nominee Nilofar Bakhtiar. Instead of declaring Fauzia Viqar as the winner, the committee chairperson Senator Falak Naz fled. What can get crazier than this?,” Nafisa Shah had stated in her tweet on June 15.
The six opposition members on the committee also wrote to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on the same day, asking him to confirm Fauzia Viqar and forward her name to the prime minister for appointment as the NCSW chairperson under the rules of the parliamentary committee.
“The voting was called by the Chairperson Falak Naz after the interviews. Six votes i.e, Dr Nafisa Shah, Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Tahira Aurangzeb, Shahida Akhtar Ali and Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem voted in favor of nominee Fauzia Viqar. Five votes i.e Asma Hadid, Shaheen Naz Saifullah, Nuzhat Pathan, Senator Sana Jamali and Farukh Khan were cast for nominee Nilofar Bakhtiar,” the opposition members stated in their letter to the NA speaker.
The opposition members claimed that the chairperson insisted upon casting her vote in favour of Nilofar Bakhtiar in violation of the committee’s rules.
“However, the Chairperson insisted on casting the vote in favor of Nilofar Bakhtiar which is against the rules. Rule number 6(4) of the Parliamentary Committee on appointment of the Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women Rules, 2012 states that ‘The chairman shall, in the event of equality of votes, have a casting vote’,” the opposition members letter reads.
After realizing that her vote was not legal and was against the Rules, Senator Falak Naz left the chair without announcing the results of the votes along with the five members who voted for Nilofar Bakhtiar, the letter said.
“We are therefore, apprising you that as per rules Fauzia Viqar’s name has been confirmed and this may be forwarded to and as Speaker to the Prime Minister for appointment,” the letter concludes.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, PTI MNA Nuzhat Pathan said there was a tie between Fauzia Viqar and Nilofar Bakhtiar after the voting by members. “Six opposition members voted for Fauzia Viqar and six treasury members voted for Nilofar Bakhtiar,” she said.
Asked about the opposition members’ claim that the chairperson could not vote under the rules, Pathan said the rules did not bar the chairperson from voting on the appointment, adding that the meeting had ended inconclusively. However, she was unaware that the federal government had appointed Nilofar Bahtiar as the NCSW chairperson.
Voicepk.net also contacted the committee’s chairperson Senator Falak Naz but she said could not comment on the appointment as she was busy in an official meeting.
Bakhtiar was elected as a senator from the PML-Q in 2006. She served as federal tourism minister in the Shaukat Aziz cabinet from 2004 to 2007. She resigned from the cabinet position after a controversy over a parachute jump in France. Bakhtiar joined the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf party in 2018. She was the PTI’s Central Joint Secretary as well as focal person for the party’s women wing.