KARACHI: In a first, Pakistan's transgender people were declared eligible for receiving cash assistance under the government's Benazir Kafalat Programme on Sunday.
Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri, who is also the chairperson of theBenazir Income Support Programme (BISP), made the announcement in a ceremony in Karachi further highlighting the government's aim to widen the BISP's scope.
Addressing the ceremony, the minister spoke about formally including members of the transgender community in the programme and making them eligible for Rs7,000 quarterly cash assistance.
She further said that transpersons belonged to a "poor segment of society" and highlighted the challenges faced by them as a community.
"They are facing economic and societal challenges in the country," the minister said, stressing how they are ignored in society and separated from their families.
Speaking about transpeoples' reluctance towards appearing before officials who deal with population data, Marri said that it happens due to society’s behaviour towards them.
As per available data, the minister added, 50,000 transgender persons were registered with an organisation. She said their registration with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was mandatory for availing of BISP financial support.
Shazia requested the community to register themselves with NADRA and later visit a BISP centre for further process to get Rs7,000 financial assistance quarterly. She added that initially, three transgender persons had registered with BISP.
The minister further shared that overall 900,000 families were being financially supported under the programme benefitting from its spirit to support society's poor people.
Marri, during the ceremony, handed over the Rs7,000 in financial assistance among the three registered transgender persons.
The BISP chairperson, at the event, spoke about Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's plans to evolve austerity measures for which he has constituted a committee.
She said that the government would take efforts to save the poor people from the effects of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) programme. Marri said that no one is in favour of taking more loans.
"Priorities of the country would be on top in talks with the IMF," Marri said, adding how the incumbent administration in the centre was bearing the brunt of its predecessor government’s "wrong decisions".