False report claims nikah (Muslim marriage) registration process to be digitised across the country
The digitisation of the marriage registration process is not currently underway in the country
Claim: An Urdu news website published an article with a headline that translated into English reads as, “The marriage registration process has been ended across the country. A new process will be introduced.” The article stated that the changes, which consist of digitising the marriage registration process, will help root out fake marriages and fraud as everything will be based on biometric data and directly linked to the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) system.
Fact: The news headline is misleading as it suggests that changes to the marriage registration process across the country are imminent, when this is in fact not the case. At present, steps to digitise the marriage registration process are only being taken in Islamabad, with the project there in its infancy.
Fact or Fiction?
On 4 January 2022, Urdu news website Khabrain TV published a news story claiming that the practice of using handwritten nikah namas will end across the country and local governments will introduce electronic tablets that will allow the registration process to be directly linked to the NADRA system. According to the article, nikah registrars and imams will be responsible for submitting a registration fee to local governments to use the new system.
To investigate the claim, Soch Fact Check spoke to Mr. Farooq Ahmad Khara Deputy Director at the Community Development & Training Department (CD&T) Punjab. Mr. Ahmed explained that the posts and articles circulating on social media regarding the changes to the marriage registration process are misleading because it is currently only the Islamabad Administration that is working on such a project. He clarified that while the Punjab government is working on certain related projects — including an initiative that will allow people to register birth certificates online — no steps are currently being taken to digitise the marriage registration process across the whole province of Punjab.
Soch Fact Check also reached out to Mr. Muhammad Jahangir, Official Focal Person at the Civil Registration Vital Statistics (CRVS) KP who specifically deals with the online registration and verification of registration certificates. He clarified that no project to digitise the marriage registration process is currently underway in the province. Secretary Local Government Balochistan Mr. Waleed Badini also clarified to Soch Fact Check that no such digitisation project is underway in Balochistan. Soch Fact Check tried reaching out to Islamabad Local Government Administration but no official response was received.
Khabrain TV was not the only platform to publish the misleading news regarding marriage registration process. The same news with the same headline was also published here, here, here, here, and here between 4 and 7 January 2022. The news story was also posted here and here on Facebook.
On 15 January 2022, ARY News also posted a video clip from their morning show Baakhabar Saweera on Facebook during which presenters spoke about the impending change to the marriage registration process. Soch Fact Check traced the news back to the Express Tribune which first reported the story on 9 June 2021, with a different headline, “Punjab to digitize nikah process”.
Conclusion: The local administration in Islamabad is taking steps to digitise the marriage registration process in the capital. However, the marriage registration process is not being digitised across the country. News reports that suggest otherwise are misleading.