ISLAMABAD: The political ambitions of eight transgender candidates have been dashed to the ground after they failed to arrange money to register themselves with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Initially, 13 transgender persons had announced they would contest the upcoming general elections, but eight of them pulled out for paucity of resources.
The ECP charges a National Assembly seat aspirant Rs30,000 and a provincial assembly candidate Rs20,000.
Of the 13, eight are still in the race. They are Nayyab Ali, Nadeem Kashish, Zahid, alias Resham, Maria Khan and Lubna Lala.
Ali, Kashish and Zahid are in the run for the National Assembly, while Khan and Lala are vying for provincial assembly seats.
Ali is contesting for NA-142 (Okara) and Lala for PP-26 (Jhelum). And both are candidates of the Gulalai-led faction of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, the contestants, who have already started their campaigns in their respective constituencies, spoke of the challenges they are facing.
They complained that some NGOs and rights activists had initially promised to finance their campaigns but have now apparently backed out.
“So far I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and acceptability from voters in my constituency. At the same time, however, I’m also facing pressure from my rivals from two major political parties to quit,” Ali told The Express Tribune.
“It is a big challenge for a transgender person to contest election from a constituency where even women cannot dare to do so,” Ali said.
Ali also spoke about the financial issues she is facing. “My affluent rivals have an edge over me. They move around in their luxury SUVs, while I travel in auto-rickshaw to visit different areas of my constituency.
They stage huge public rallies, but I only hold corner meetings. They are putting up massive billboards and banners, while I’m distributing pamphlets and hand bills,” she said.
Zahid, alias Resham, who is in the run for NA-69 (Gujrat) as an independent candidate, said she cannot afford to run an elaborate election campaign. She visits door to door to woo voters, which, according to her, helps her to know the real issues of her constituents.
“If I win the election, my focus will be on ensuring provision of clean drinking water to the people in my constituency which is their long-standing demand,” she said. “This is precisely the reason I applied for Balti [bucket] as my election symbol.”
Maria Khan is contesting for PK-31 (Manshera) as an independent candidate. She is overwhelmed by the support from voters, but feels intimidated by her political rivals.
“I’m scared of going out on streets as hirelings of my rivals are always standing outside my home and as soon I go out they start making fun of me. They taunt me as Khusra [derogatory word for transgender persons],” says Khan.
Nadeem Kashish regrets that the mainstream parties have ignored the transgender people in the award of tickets. She had to borrow money to pay for her registration with the ECP. “Now, I need money to finance my election campaign.”
Says concerned authorities are directed to facilitate all districts to issue CNICs to transgender people through NADRA
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