For a year and a half now, Afghan citizens have been able to apply for e-passports, which provide biometric data that can be used to identify the holder. The new system has made it harder for criminals and insurgents to travel.
Major Nasir Ahmad, Biometrics expert, said “Whenever a person comes to us, we ask them to put their thumb on the machine. The machine highlights people who have criminal records, what they were arrested for and on what date. We then send that person to the directorate of the criminal investigation department for security clearance.”
A resident of Kabul, Mohammad Azim, said “I appreciate a lot, a lot the government of Afghanistan, because they provide a passport, they are computerising. I think they are in a high standard like a UK passport. I have a UK passport as well at the moment. I think both of them are similar. If you see the paper in the middle, also they are not different. It’s very good and it’s very good for all Afghan nation.”
The Afghan passport office needed modernising. The old system was corrupt, with people being able to pay for more than one passport.
Those who turn up to this new office are addressed by the current boss and are warned not to offer money to staff.
Colonel Sayed Omar Saboor, Afghanistan Central Passport Department, said “Fortunately the new electronic computerised system is totally different from the previous hand-written system, because the new system can be read by computer in different international airports. The entire process is done by computer, starting with the photo ID, finger prints, lamination; all the specific steps of the process involve computers.”
Since the new passport system has been operating, a number of people have been arrested after showing up with fake identity cards.
“Right now the only problem that we have is our national identity card is still not yet computerised and I hope the process starts soon. Everyday we confront lots of fraudulent cases arrest them and then handed them over to judicial authorities,” said Colonel Sayed Omar Saboor, Afghanistan Central Passport Department.
Everyday many Afghan citizens fly out of country either on vacation, business or simply to study.
Colonel Sayed Omar Saboor, Afghanistan Central Passport Department, said “Right now all the citizens of Afghanistan who are willing to travel outside the country have passports and they are travelling abroad legally. This shows the legitimacy of Afghanistan and that it is respecting the international laws.”
This is the script of the NATOChannel story by Sayed Mansoor