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A member of Azad Party taking selfie with the party president Nadeem Kashish (left) after a press conference in Islamabad. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: In order to end the Pakistani transgender people’s “backwardness”, members of the community in Islamabad and Rawalpindi led by transgender activist Nadeem Kashish announced founding of the Azad Party at the press club.

Later, while talking to Gulf News, Nadeem Kashish explained that the prevailing circumstances, which are not aligned in support of shemales and transgender people, compelled them to adopt the new political route.

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Gender-based discrimination

“Through Azad Party, we shall try our best to end gender-based discrimination in society, and will support and encourage talented transgender people in their endeavours like finding jobs or completing education etc,” said Kashish.

“Being from a different gender doesn’t mean we are not ordinary people.” asserted Nadeem Kashish adding he has carried out 20-year struggle for equal rights of transgender community.

A makeup artist in a TV channel, Kashish is also doing community work (for transgenders particularly) from his non-government organisation (NGO) Shemale Association for Fundamental Rights (SAFAR).

No democracy without transgenders participation

Without participation and representation of the transgender community, neither the parliament will be complete nor the election process will have public credibility, said Kashish.

He said the Azad Party will work at grassroots level and start from their own streets and neighbourhood.

“We shall win public confidence by devoting ourselves to resolving their problems,” said he.

Sex workers, beggar mafia

Currently, a majority of transgender community members are sex workers or beggars and every evening, one can see hundreds of them standing at busy crossings seeking alms.

Kashish said one point of the manifesto of Azad Party will be to prevent the transgender community from becoming sex workers or beggars. “We shall create such opportunities for them as would help them find a respectable place in society.

A very ‘ordinary’ political party

Kashish said his colleagues had studied all political parties and extracted all their good points. “Our party will be just like other parties with ordinary slogans and ordinary manifesto. This is what we ask from society, we are ordinary people, please take us for that,” he said.

“Our party will also take to the streets and chant slogans. We also know how to cry. However, we will come in a normal way because we are a new party,” said Kashish.

No ‘guru-chela’ culture

Kashish said there would be no culture of ‘guru’ and ‘chela’ (teacher and student) in the Azad Party. “We shall abolish that age-old system after coming to power.” Kashish said he had himself come from the guru-chela system and knew that in this culture, eunuchs were trapped in sex work and begging. “I have seen how this system leads one to crime at home and with people.”

Around 22,000 transgenders are registered w the National Database And Registration of Authority (NADRA). However, according to Kashish, the actual number is much more and there might be half a million transgenders all over Pakistan.