ISLAMABAD: At least 13 transgender persons will contest general elections this year to create history in the country and make their unheard voice heard. Of them two will contest for National Assembly and the rest for provincial assembly seats.
On Wednesday, it was officially announced at a national consultation organised by All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) in collaboration with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The national consultation was attended by all the potential candidates and representatives from their assigned constituencies where they highlighted their demands and importance of political inclusion and empowerment of transgender persons in Pakistan.
While sharing names of some of the potential candidates, APTEN said it includes Farzana Riaz (NA-33) Arzu Khan (PK-33) Lubna (PP-26) Komal (PP-38) Madam Bhutto (PP-189) Nayab (NA-142) Nadeem Kasish (Candidate for National Assembly) Ashee (Candidate from Punjab) and others.
The objective of this consultation was to bring all the candidates and other stakeholders at discussion table where they could share their concerns and way forward. The major concern of the candidates was regarding their identity documents such as CNIC among others. Some of them have CNIC in which they are mentioned as male in gender section but by appearance they look like women.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Qamar Naseem, member of the Chief Minister’s Special Community on Rights of the Transgender Persons (K-P) and member of the National Task Force said the ECP Act 2017 under Article 48 A and B transgender community are included in the vulnerable community which means that they shall not be required to stand in queue and will be given priority of right to vote.
“The polling station staff will ensure that they will cast their votes as soon as they will reach the polling station,” he said.
Naseem further said that last time four transgender persons contested general election but they could not do it in proper order.
However, this year the community has constituted APTEN which will provide them [transgender] a platform from where they will contest election in an organised manner.
“It is about time that the transgender community of Pakistan has rightful representation,” Naseem said, adding that the announcement of candidacy and contestation in elections by transgender persons is historic given the staggering rates of violence and discrimination faced by trans-people throughout the country.
Meanwhile speaking at the occasion Additional Director General (Gender Affairs) Nighat Siddique said, “In the upcoming electoral process ECP will ensure a friendly and inclusive system for the transgender community not only as voters but also as candidates.”
It is a great achievement that transgender persons have been included in the upcoming elections and the commission will formulate a viable strategy to facilitate transgender community in the electoral process as voters and candidates, she added.