PESHAWAR: Around 5,000 transgenders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will not be able to cast vote on May 11 due to the failure of National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) to deliver computerised national identity cards to them.
Around 500 of them are from Peshawar district.
“We have submitted original CNICs to Nadra eight months ago for preparation of new cards with a column showing us as transvestites but neither have these cards been returned nor have we got the new ones,” provincial head of Shemale Association Farzana told Dawn on Wednesday.
The transgender said in Peshawar alone, there were 500 members of the association but none of them had a CNIC and therefore, none of them would be able to participate in the May 11 elections.
She said Nadra had issued tokens to all transvestite applicants for new CNICs but didn’t prepare new cards within the stipulated period and that majority of the people had paid repeated visits to the Nadra officers but no one listened to them. The same is the case with other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where transvestites have complained of long delay in issuance of CNICs.
“We, transvestites, have a sizeable population in the province but are not registered with our association. Nadra officials don’t cooperate with us, so we will be unable to poll our votes,” the Sheemale Association head said.
Referring to the directives of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the transgender said the government was bound to ensure provision of CNICs, reasonable jobs to the community and ensure their participation in the elections, but nothing had been done by it in this respect.
“We have 200 members of the association in Kohat, 150 in Bannu, 120 in Charsadda, 250 in Swat, 90 in Nowshera, 140 in Mardan and 70 in Swabi but all have the same complaints of non-issuance of CNICs,” she said.
Farzana said gender change in the documents, especially in CNICs, had become a major problem for transvestites because unlike other citizens, it was very difficult for them to get their documents attested.
“We have said goodbye to our families forever, so tell me how we can get our CNIC forms attested,” Ms Farzana said.
Another transvestite, Sanam, said whenever she visited Nadra offices, the relevant officials didn’t listen to them and rather tried to tease them.
“We have different viewpoints about politicians and everyone has own choice like Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party but unavailability of CNICs have made our lives miserable because we even cannot cross a checkpoint without it and have to stay indoors,” Sanam said.
She said had Nadra issued transvestites CNICs, they would have performed during public meetings of leaders of their choice.
“Now, we have no interest in the elections. We wish a success to the people, who will give us respect and treat us like other human beings,” she said.
Sanam said as human beings, transvestites had the right to avail themselves of all facilities available to other citizens, to lead life like other Pakistanis. She said on one hand, police teased them and forced them to bribe and on the other, anti-social elements forced them to dance for them without payment.
The transvestites have appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief election commissioner to take notice of excesses being meted out to them.
He said a large number of citizens were being deprived of their right to vote.
However, Nadra officials said smart CNICs were issued in one week and normal cards within 10 days.
When contacted, assistant director at local Nadra office Salman Khan said cases of transvestites had been initiated and sent to headquarters for final approval as the old software did not have the column for transvestites.
“We have columns for men and women but there is no space for transvestites. The Nadra headquarters in Islamabad has yet to finalise it,” he said.