Despite all preparations having been taken for the distribution of long-awaited electronic ID cards among the Afghan public, project leaders say none have yet been issued, and the reason for the delay remains unclear.
According to the Director General of the Electronic National ID Cards Project, Humayun Muhtat, following the publishing of a new population registration law outlining the legal parameters and functions of the new standardized ID cards two weeks ago, it was expected that distribution would begin promptly.
“Two and a half weeks ago, the Ministry of Justice’s population registration law was published in its official gazette and on the same day we sent a letter to the National Security Council of Afghanistan and asked for permission [to start distribution],” Mr. Muhtat told TOLOnews on Tuesday. “So far we are waiting for the Security Council’s response and we have not received any answer.”
The Director General of the project, which is intended to help make elections run smoother as well as help Afghan law enforcement and security institutions, warned that failure to launch distribution soon could cause the funders of the project to back out. “If this situation continues, it can certainly be said that the program donors and the Ministry of Finance will be deterred from this program, and then we have to fire our staff,” Muhtat said.
Nasrat Rahimi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, has said that planning for the distribution of the new ID cards has been in place for over a year. “The law has been signed and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology made all technical plans and arrangements a year and half ago,” he said.
With parliamentary elections rapidly approaching, many in the public wonder if the ID cards will be distributed in enough time to be widely used. “The distribution of electronic ID cards is a serious need, especially for transparent elections,” a Kabul resident named Ahmadullah told TOLOnews.
Regarding why the National Security Council has failed to issue a response to leaders of the project granting them permission to move ahead with distribution, a spokesman of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Asif Ashna, cited the sluggish cabinet confirmation process. “We are waiting for the national unity government cabinet to be complete and with the beginning of electoral reform the ID cards distribution will start,” Ashna said.
The electronic ID card project was launched under former President Hamid Karzai over 18 months ago.