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May 14, 2012

Committed Nighat Orakzai vows to revive PML-Q in KP


Web Desk
May 14, 2012

PESHAWAR: Many people have seen Nighat Orakzai tossing her hands into the air in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly while making an argument and is known for giving tough time to her male colleagues and the treasury benches.
Now her party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, has asked her to organise the disintegrating party and battle with other parties outside the assembly. She became the only woman politician in the country to head a political party in a province when Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PML-Q’s central president, appointed her the party’s convener in KP.
Her new job demands strenuous efforts as the PML-Q expects her to hold the party together at a time when it has lost most of its activists to other parties. What makes her job the most challenging is the fact that she has been tasked to head a province that is considered one of the most conservative provinces where women are hardly encouraged to participate in politics. Militancy and terrorism add to the challenge as even male politicians find themselves unable to continue political activities in the province.
But these challenges hardly trouble Nighat Orakzai and she appears committed to work against all odds. “I am no less brave than men,” she said when asked how she would compete with her male counterparts in the conservative province. “I am going to pay my first visit to [the remote] Kohistan district and will also go to Fata,” she added.
She said Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah had inspired her and she appreciated Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nasim Wali Khan for gaining prominence in politics. “If a woman in Pakistan (Benazir Bhutto) could become prime minister and if Begum Nasim Wali Khan could lead the Awami National Party in the province, what could hold me back,” she asked.
The PML-Q leader downplayed the challenges and said she would face no problems outside the assembly. “I am not a woman politician who had discussed only lipstick and powder, but I have always engaged in politics of

manoeuvring,” she said.
Nighat Orakzia said being a woman she would face challenge from position-seekers in her party, as she feared some colleagues might not cooperate with her.
The party suffered a big blow when its provincial president Amir Muqam joined the rival PML-N. His departure weakened the PML-Q as he was considered the linchpin of the party in the province. Now Nighat Orakzai and her 13-member organising committee is tasked to revive the party in KP.
She seems determined to reorganise the PML-Q and hold intra-party election at all levels. “We will not hire but make workers, and we will not select office-bearers but elect them,” she promised.
Nighat Orakzai said she started taking part in political activities in 1993 and joined the PML Junejo group in 1997 as its women’s wing provincial general secretary.
She joined the PML-Q in 2000 and became president of the women’s wing in KP in 2002. She was elected MPA on reserved seat for women in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008.
Before joining active politics, she served in several organisations including the Atomic Energy Commission, Bank of Oman, TCS and American Consulate.
She said her family originally was from Orakzai Agency, but had settled in Peshawar some one century back. Nighat Orakzai’s father Malik Essa Khan Orakzai participated in the movement for creation of Pakistan and also underwent imprisonment for the cause. She said her father supported her entry into politics, though her mother and brother had been opposed to it.
She was born on July 17, 1962 in Peshawar and has three sisters and one brother. She got married in 1989 and has three sons and a daughter.
Nighat Orakzai has never attended high school, college and university and attained education as a private student. She has a master’s degree in Urdu and Islamic Studies.

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