Painstaking effort to distribute the long-awaited biometric identity cards in the multiethnic Afghanistan has been counterproductive and acrimonious, and orchestrated an unprovoked crisis, public rage and disputes among politicians. The bone of contention is whether to include ethnicity in the long-protested biometric cards – a decision which has been detested as ethnocentric. Albeit, national identity cards have been designed to help consolidate the nascent national unity and curb the inevitable election fraud.
Ever since the contentious proposal was sent to the lawmakers, a spree of hysteria transpired. There has been a rift mainly between those in support of this inclusion and those against it.
In fact, this crisis is a hoax orchestrated by foreigners to create diversion in the course of the national unity of Afghanistan. Afghans are fed up with trivial matters that advertently become a national problem. Afghans – of all racial and ethnic profiles – should be wise. This hoax is dividing us. In fact, it has already wreaked ethnic schism and acrimony. Flinching politicians must be prudent and get pragmatic. They must intercede and contemplate having to preempt any foreign or domestic elements to polarize Afghanistan.
From the perspective of national cohesion, the issue of whether to include ethnicity or exclude it from the biometric cards is distracting us from the very fact that people of Afghanistan need more morale to be unified than polarized. We are nascent in democracy and have a long bumpy road ahead to gain maturity. Every mistake gives us another chance to learn and avoid more mistakes.
Afghan people should weigh the distinctive expediencies the new biometric identity cards present – the initiative will be implemented in several phases; at first these cards will be just identity cards – which per se present a modern outlook of Afghans’ identity; then these electronic cards will take a broader shape and become the source of identification including but not limited to voter registration, driver’s license, signature and vehicle registration. They will help orchestrate a transparent and fraud-free election process that is in the offing. Election is undoubtedly a manifest of democratic and political development. And any attempt to make this democratic process more transparent and bereft of fraud must be encouraged and any attempt to marginalize national unity deterred.
There existed widespread allegations of fraud in the landmark 2014 presidential elections. Even many voters had counterfeited their identity cards and voted twice. This is when the sheer significance of electronic identity cards is exemplified, as a way to curtail vote rigging. Moreover, proper identity is an urgent need for Afghan people.
Amid the rift, the authority in charge of biometric identity cards has performed a daring act – it has already initiated the distribution process. Even a few parliamentarians, high-ranking officials, religious council chief and the attorney general have taken the liberty to apply. The President along with First Lady and second vice president has also applied for electronic identity cards. The people of Afghanistan are jubilant about this move – which defies the odds.