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Fact-check: Social media posts, politicians share incorrect claims about Pakistan’s transgender law

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A law that ensures fundamental rights for Pakistan’s transgender citizens has stirred up controversy, as religious groups argue that it legalises same-sex marriages and homosexuality in the country.

The claim is false.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed by Pakistan’s parliament in 2018. The law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in schools, workplaces and public spaces, as well as ensures their right to vote, inherit property and run for public office.

Claim

This year, politicians from religious political parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan (Fazl) kicked up a row, insisting that the law is against Islamic tenets and should be immediately amended.


A law that ensures fundamental rights for Pakistan’s transgender citizens has stirred up controversy, as religious groups argue that it legalises same-sex marriages and homosexuality in the country.

The claim is false.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed by Pakistan’s parliament in 2018. The law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in schools, workplaces and public spaces, as well as ensures their right to vote, inherit property and run for public office.

Claim

This year, politicians from religious political parties, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan (Fazl) kicked up a row, insisting that the law is against Islamic tenets and should be immediately amended.

Posted on the official Facebook page of Jamaat-e-Islami on September 22.
Posted on the official Facebook page of Jamaat-e-Islami on September 22.

Separately, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has submitted a resolution in the Sindh Assembly against the implementation of the law. While the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing has held several study circles in colleges against the law, calling it a “dagger in the Islamic republic.”

On September 16, two hashtags also began trending on social media #Ammendtransgenderact and #Amendtransgenderact. Both hashtags have to date accumulated over 5,000 tweets and videos with several thousand views.

Social media users and conservative politicians accuse the law of permitting gender-reassignment surgeries, same-sex marriages and cross-dressing. They also claim that since 2018, when the law was passed, over 23,000 people changed their genders.

Posted on the official Facebook page of Jamaat-e-Islami on September 22.
Posted on the official Facebook page of Jamaat-e-Islami on September 22.

Fact

The claim that the law will allow men to change their gender to female and women to male on official documents is incorrect.

The law clearly defines a “transgender person” as one who is “intersex” with a mixture of male and female genital features or a eunuch assigned the male gender at birth but undergoes castration or a trans person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

The Rules to the Act further clarify that a transgender person will have to approach the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for a change of name or gender on identity documents, as per their self-perceived identity. And NADRA will only alter their gender from Female to the category “X” or Male to the category “X”.

“X” symbolises the third sex in Pakistan, a classification specially created for the trans community on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2009.

The law or the Rules do not allow men to change their gender to female or vice versa on their CNICs, passports or other travel documents.

Video posted against the Transgender Act on Twitter on September 21.
Video posted against the Transgender Act on Twitter on September 21.

The claim that the law permits same-sex marriages and gender-change surgeries is false.

There is no mention in the Act or the Rules of marriage or gender-affirming surgeries.

Several social media users further argue that since 2018, 23,000 people have changed their genders, as per their wishes. Geo Fact Check could find no data or evidence to support this claim.

Video posted against the Transgender Act on Twitter on September 21.
Video posted against the Transgender Act on Twitter on September 21.

In fact, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, who has been vocally opposing the law and insisting that it be amended, had asked the interior ministry in November 2021 for the total number of applications received by NADRA, for the issuance of gender-change certificates between July 2018 and June 2021.

To which, then interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed clarified that NADRA does not issue gender change certificates. “However, gender is modified [on official documents] due to medical reasons or on request of Transgender persons,” he added, as per documents seen by Geo Fact Check.

He further provided a breakdown of 28, 723 trans people whose gender had been changed by NADRA in the dates specified above. 

Response by the Interior Ministry to Senator Mushtaq Ahmed’s query.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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