Wednesday May 31, 2023

PK-31: Transgender candidate continues campaign despite hurdles

July 21, 2018

PESHAWAR: Maria, the lone transgender from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa contesting general election as an independent candidate, has continued her campaign despite hurdles and challenges.

Her original name is Alamgir and is a resident of Mansehra. She is president of the Shemale associations of Mansehra and Hazara division. Maria is contesting on PK-31 Mansehra against 13 male candidates. Her election symbol is sheep.

The other candidates are Babar Salim Swati of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Khurram Shehzad Khan, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Zahoor Ahmad, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Sultan Mehmood, Awami National Party, Rustam Khan, Pakistan Aman Tehreek, Muhammad Attiqur Rehman, Tahreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, Muhammad Nisar, Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, Tariq Ameen, Amun Taraqqi Party and four independent candidates -- Kamran Anwar, Muhammad Ibrahim and Nadir Khan.

In a telephonic interview with The News, Maria said she was facing hurdles to her election campaign as her rival candidates were trying to force her to quit the election race.

“My election posters are being removed from the walls,” she complained, adding she was being discriminated against because of her gender identity. Maria said a group of youngsters, instigated by her rivals, tease her during election campaigning.

To a question, she said there was no security issue as she was accompanied by her security guard during the campaign. However, she claimed, she was getting good response and support from the voters, mostly youngsters and women of the constituency.

Asked about the manifesto, Maria replied that she wanted to work for the transgender community and women of the constituency.

However, she promised to provide clean drinking water to the people, establish vocational centres for women for skilled jobs and improve the health delivery system in King Abdullah Hospital in the constituency, if elected.

As per the final lists of Election Commission of Pakistan, a total of five transgender persons are contesting the general elections 2018.

One is from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four are from Punjab. Two candidates are contesting the election on the ticket of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Gulalai (PTI-G) and three as independent candidates.

All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) had decided to field 13 transgender persons on national and provincial assembly seats and even announced names, but due to alleged unfavourable conditions and threats from rival candidates from the constituencies, the majority of the candidates decided not to contest the election.

Two candidates from Peshawar including Farzana Jan, president, KP Transgender Association, and Arzu, general secretary, also decided not to contest the election as Arzu is a government employee and Farzana is working with Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

Qamar Naseem, member of the chief minister's special community on Rights of Transgender Persons (KP) 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.