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Pakistan’s transgender community rolls out 700-foot national flag

Islamabad: Pakistan’s transgender community celebrated the county’s 69th Independence Day with a 700-foot long-flag that they meticulously stitched together over 12 days, a media report said on Saturday.

Organised by the Sindh chapter of the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), hundreds of transgenders or “Khawaja Sarras” rolled out the gigantic flag measuring 700 feet in length and 50 feet in breadth, to mark the occasion at the Bagh-e-Quaid-e-Azam in Karachi on Friday, Dawn online reported.

Ecstatic and proud of their accomplishment, they walked across the length of the park holding up the flag, shouting “Pakistan Zinadabad!”

“We put in a lot of hard over this flag; it is to show our love for Pakistan. We value this country with all our hearts and would not hesitate to die for it,” a transgender member said.

Transgenders in Pakistan were awarded the right to register as a third gender on their Computerised National Identity Card’s (CNIC) in 2012. The Supreme Court had also ordered free education and free health care for the Khawaja Sarra community. However, provincial welfare departments are yet to implement the decision.

“I’m glad to see that so many people turned up to stand with us here for Pakistan. This is Pakistani unity,” another member said.

As a result, they continue to face discrimination from society. They largely depend on a livelihood of singing and dancing at weddings and birth celebrations. They are also treated as sex objects and often become the victims of violent assault.

According to sources, the making of the flag cost 100,000 Pakistani rupees ($981).

“We wish to walk abreast all Pakistanis,” Mazhar Anjum, president of Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) — an organisation working for the equality and civil rights of transgenders — said.

“All we ask for is some respect.”