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Tempers high over counterfeited identity cards, stickers

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Members of Wolesi Jirga of the Parliament on Saturdaycalled existence of counterfeited identity cards and fake voter registration stickers ‘a matter of concern’. The grievance was raised on Saturday during an interpellation of the Independent Election Commission and Population Registration Office officials.

Parliament members believed that existence of fake Tazkirasand voter registration stickers could seriously undermine transparency of the coming parliamentarian election across the country.

Some alleged that the government plansto engineer the October election.

In Kabul city – where most of the government surveillance exists – fake identity cards and voter registration stickers are abundantly found; this is a big challenge ahead of the election, said Member of Parliament Dawod Kalakani. A claim he said he had sufficient evidence to substantiate.

MP Fatema Aziz said, “To implement a national and democratic process, safety of people and candidates is a must. If government fails, a free and fair election is thus impossible”.

While not directly rejecting allegations of existence of counterfeited identity cards, Population Registration Office Chief Homayon Mohtat said, “We perceived this threat and shared it and other grave grievances with the election commission and the government.

Surveillance on distribution of forged national identity cards is not our responsibility, said Mohtat. “It is the duty of intelligence agencies to control any identity card misuse,” he said, demanding an enhanced co-operation of the government intelligence agencies with population registration office to deal with this concern and incarcerate perpetrators.

Mohtat asked members of the parliament to share any documentations and evidences they hold regarding counterfeiting of identity cards.

Independent Election Commission Secretary Caretaker Awrang Zib said the commission planned to open 1,419 voter registration centers in the first phase in provincial capital towns; a total of 44 centers fell to the Taliban and 84 centers remained close due to high security threats.

“In the first phase of voter registration, over three million people including 898,000 women have registered to vote,” he mentioned, “As the majority of the population lives in the center of provinces, thus the first phase of voter registration is extended for another month till mid-April in provincial capitals”.

There is a plan to open 3,072 registration centers in the second phase in districts; however, 350 centers remained closed due to security threats and around 300 centers remained shutdue to lack late dispatching of electoral materials. “If the registration process was weak in second phase, the IEC will take decision to keep some registration centers in the third round,” he underlined.

These remarks come as there is skepticism over the voter registration – a process largely plagued by high security threats and low public interest. Voter registration turnout has been very low ever since it began despite contradictory allegations of government officials.The figures seem to be fabricated in the face of reports that recount a contrary story. Many voter registration sites have remained closed for insecurity; many people face threat even by showing up in a voter center.

Independent Election Commission Operational Chief Zemarai Qalamyar said the commission had a systematic sequence digit number that identifies fake stickers and Tazkiras. Election commission has technical preparations that could avoid repeated votes in polling stations.

“Cooperation with the election commission is essential, and those facing any problem can report it to us for solution,” he added. The commission had shared all issues with the security agencies and till date registration process is smooth, he added.

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