Pakistani authorities resumed issuing identity cards listing X as the bearer’s gender on Monday after a four-month halt caused by a controversial ruling from the Pakistani Federal Shariat Court.
According to Rida Qazi, Public Engagement Director at the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA), the authority has now received instructions to resume printing X-category Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) for transgender individuals. He further mentioned that the matter is currently under consideration in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and that NADRA has a constitutional obligation to issue special ID cards for transgender individuals before the final decision.
The pause in issuing ID cards was the result of a contentious Federal Shariat Court ruling in May, which struck down major sections of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, landmark legislation aimed at safeguarding the rights of transgender individuals in Pakistan. The court, which determines the alignment of laws with Islamic principles, declared that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act contradicted Islamic doctrine. It claimed that the Quran only recognizes the sex assigned at birth, thereby concluding that self-identification of gender is not in accordance with Islamic precepts.
Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, has expressed concern over this verdict, saying it is a significant setback for the already marginalized transgender and gender-diverse community in Pakistan. It pointed out that some of the court’s conclusions were based on presumptions rather than concrete evidence.
Nayyab Ali, the executive director of Transgender Rights Consultants Pakistan, celebrated the governments decision to resume issuing the identity cards, saying “Congratulations to the entire community of transgender activists in Pakistan for your relentless struggle.”