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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday sought comments from federal and provincial governments and chairman Nadra in a writ petition, seeking relief for transgender community including insertion of a new column for them in the census form so that their population could be ascertained in the future census.

The bench comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan directed that the respondents including the federal secretary interior, provincial chief secretary and Nadra chairman to file written comments before Oct 20.

The petition is filed by president of Transaction Alliance Riaz alias Farzana and nine other transgender persons seeking intervention of the high court in inclusion of a column for them in the census form; specification of two per cent quota for them in jobs by the provincial government; and issuance of national identity card to them by mentioning their sex as “transgender” in it.

Advocate Gul Rahman Mohmand appeared for the petitioners and stated that the petitioners were citizens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and were entitled to all the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

He stated that because of their gender identity, the transgender persons were often expelled from their homes by their parents and other relatives. He claimed that after attaining the age of 18, the transgender persons were not issued computerised national identity card by Nadra as their parents were not willing to give them their recognition.

Mr Mohmand said that the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had in 2009 taken suo moto action for the first time in the country and directed Nadra to issue CNIC to transgender persons.

However, he added that Nadra issued CNIC to a small segment of the transgender population.

The counsel stated that federal government was responsible for conducting census after every 10 years and the last census was conducted in 1998. He said that so far federal government had not taken any step to amend the census form so as to include a column for transgender community.

Mr Mohmand said that despite repeated requests by the petitioners, government had not been including a separate column in the census form. He said that in 2012, the then provincial government had announced a two per cent quota for transgender persons in government services in the province, but no law was made to include the said decision in it so as to implement it.

He stated that in the provincial budget for the year 2016-17, the government had announced Rs200m allocation for rehabilitation of transgender community, which would be spent only in Peshawar district whereas in rests of the districts no allocation had been made.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2016