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Transgenders to participate in Pakistan’s general elections

Social media praises the steps the country has taken to include transgenders in the political arena

Dubai

Thirteen transgender people are aspiring to run in Pakistan’s upcoming general elections, from across the country.

The All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) announced at a press conference in Peshawar on Wednesday. At the event, the organisation condemned the mistreatment of transgender candidates during elections.

According to the country’s English daily, Dawn, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has passed the nomination papers of five contenders, while the documents of the remaining candidates are still under process.

Transgenders in the community regularly face security and societal integration issues. No major political party in the country has issued tickets to such individuals, except Ayesha Gulalai’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-Gulalai (PTI-G), which has given four such tickets for the upcoming elections.

The TransAction Alliance, that aims to improve conditions for transgenders in Pakistan’s conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), using their Twitter handle, @TransActionPak posted: “First time in the history of Pakistan and Islamic world a political party issued party tickets to transgender election candidates. PTI(G).Thank you Ayesha Gulalai. Biggest Advocacy Success of All Pakistan Transgender Election Network #APTEN.”

The rest of social media was also quick to applaud APTEN’s decision and the progress Pakistani society has made.

Twitter user Faisal Ahmad Jafri @faisalahmadj wrote: “Love the fact how Pakistan has progressed today: transgenders contesting upcoming elections while corrupt politicians like Nawaz Sharif barred for life!”

On the same sentiment, user @Ja_ve_ria tweeted: “13 transgender will contest in elections 2018. Pakistan is one of the first countries to legally recognize the third sex. More power to you.”

Actor Iqbal Theba @iqbalthebam on Twitter, praised the steps the country has taken so far: “So refreshing to see this in Pakistan, a supposedly Conservative “backward” country. Also it’s one of the few countries which, by law, gives u the freedom not to define urself just as male or female but as a transgender as well.”

Indian tweeps praised the initiative, too, @PragyaNarang posted: “In 2014 general elections, 4 #transgender persons had contested elections in #India. It is only 0.7% of 545 seats. In #Pakistan this year, transgenders are contesting on 5% of the 272 elected seats.”

Despite the positive steps Pakistan has taken towards transgender acceptance, many of them still face threats daily.

According to Dawn, after news of them aspiring to run for the elections leaked, at least two transgender people, one in Peshawar and another in Haripur were unable to submit their papers due to harassment and physical assaults.

Highlighting the importance of transgender participants in the political realm, APTEN has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure safety of the candidates.

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