Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 17th, 2019

Senate Debate on New ID Cards Inconclusive

Senate Debate on New ID Cards  Inconclusive

KABUL - After a furious debate on whether or not to mention tribe’s name in computerized identity cards, Meshrano Jirga members on Sunday staged a walkout from the upper house, leaving the session inconclusive.

A draft law on computerized ID cards was approved by the Wolesi Jirga -- or lower house -- in July this year, despite a physical clash between two lawmakers and a walkout from others. Seeking to prevent forged cards, the draft law was presented by the Ministry of Justice in March.

It includes seven chapters and 39 articles. Under the law, computerized ID cards will be issued to all Afghans in three phases. The lower house endorsed some controversial articles of the law despite opposition from some lawmakers.

They suggested Article 6 should be sent to the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution (ICOIC) for interpretation. The article says tribes should be mentioned in database but not written in ID cards.

But the assembly approved the law after 105 of the 136 MPs raised their green cards, with 10 MPs staging a walkout to press for a mention of tribes. The government proposed the ID cards should carry the holder’s name, father’s name, grandfather’s name, date of birth and permanent and current address.

After a prolonged and heated debate, Meshrano Jirga members said agreed with the government’s proposal, but penname and religion should also be mentioned in the cards. The law was presented before the house by the Defense and Interior Security Affairs commission.

Mohammad Duad Hasas, the panel’s deputy head, told the house the card’s requirements had been made clear in Article 6. He said the commission would endorse the lower house’s decision if the word “Afghan” was mentioned in electronic ID cards.

But a lawmaker from central Bamyan province, Hidayatullah Rihayee, opposed the idea. “If the word Afghan is to be written in the card, then names of other communities like Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek should also be written.”

Similar views were held by other upper house members. But Abdul Hanan Haqwayoon, a legislator from southeastern Paktia province, said it was important to mention the word Afghan in the cards.

“If we look into the ID cards of other nations, their nationalities are mentioned. Like American, Chinese and Pakistani.” Several members supported his suggestion, saying the house held two views on the issue and there should be voting on it.

But first Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who presided over the session, said a majority of senators should first express their views before reaching a decision.

Member from eastern Kunar Rafiullah Haideri said the house administrative delegation did not want lawmakers’ views on the matter. “The chair seems biased and trying to prolong the issue,” said Haideri, who staged a walkout in protest.

A large number of MPs followed in his footsteps, causing an incomplete quorum. Senate Secretary Syed Farrukh Shah Janab said the debate should continue during next session because the quorum was incomplete. (Pajhwok)