Afghan is hoping to provide new electronic identification cards to ALL its citizens in time for the countries presidential election in April.
The plan will cost 100 million US dollars is hoped will help curtail voter fraud and promote national unity.
After a passionate debate and a number of walk outs….the Afghan parliament voted that a citizen’s ethnicity should not be included on the new electronic identity cards.
There will be just one word: Afghan.
Ethnic rifts run deep in Afghanistan, and ethnicity is closely tied to citizens' sense of political and social identity.
Some argue if ethnicity was including on the ID card it would help the government know exactly the size of each ethnic group.
There have been large demonstrations in favor of ethnicity being included in Kabul city and also in Europe.
Dozens of Afghan expatriates gathered outside the Afghan embassy in London calling for ethnicity to be state on the national ID Cards.
Ahmad Mansoor was one of the protestors.
“Our tribes name it is the legacy of our forefathers, we don’t want to loss it. We are not Afghans, because Afghan refers only to the Pashtun tribe."
The other side feels equally passionate.
Hundreds of Afghans protested in Kabul city calling on the government NOT to include ethnicity on the card.
“We want Afghanistan; we want Islam, we want Afghan. They should respect us.”
University student Tahira Muzafari is concern that highlighting difference ethnicities will lead to more violence
“Afghan means all tribes in our countries not Pashtun or Tajik etc… also using of a word for all of us shows our unity.”
Afghanistan has been ravaged by decades of civil war.
Ramazan Ali like many Afghans fled to neighboring Pakistan to escape the violence and says people saw them as ‘Afghans’.
“When we emigrated to neighbor countries during the civil war they called us Afghan not Tajik or Pashtun.”
Interior ministry electronic ID cards adviser Muhammad Nasir Amin believes the parliament has made the right decision.
“There is no place for ethnicity or tribe in other countries ID cards.”
He says its people’s right to demonstrate, but now calls on all Afghans to unite to make the electronic ID roll out a success.
“We will give the first electronic ID cards to President Karzay and we have 10 other sites in Kabul city that will start distributing the ID cards to people. We will start in Kabul and then roll it out across the country, costing around 100 million US dollars.”
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