Population census law seen in need of amendments
KABUL (Pajhwok): A coalition of civil society groups on Tuesday said President Ashraf Ghani had assured them that the population census law would be amended and the word “Afghan” written in national identification documents.
The Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament approved the population census law in July, 2013 and then endorsed by the president. Some Wolesi Jirga members had protested against the way the census law was passed. They had claimed the measure was approved despite a lack of quorum.
Several civil society and political groups had staged protests against not mentioning the word “Afghan” in the ID cards. But some argue that the words "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan" identifying the card as an official state document means its holder is an Afghan.
In a statement, the coalition “Joint fortification of all Afghans to protect national values” said they had extended their deep concerns about the issue of biometric citizenship identity cards to the president through a delegation. The groups include Afghan Milli Ghorzang, Milli Sabat Group, Adalat Party and several others. They also include youth organizations, tribal councils and many civil society groups.
The coalition said President Ashraf Ghani through his representatives had assured them that the relevant law would be amended and the word “Afghan” would be mentioned in identification documents. The president had also promised that a permanent and trustable department would be set up for the issuance of national identity cards, the statement said.
It said the president had ruled out the launch of a test identity cards distribution campaign on August 19. “In addition to calling off our protest for the time being in response to the message from the president, we also urge all the Afghans to stay awake until the problem is completely solved and if the president backs out of his promises under pressure from opponents of national unity, we should be prepared for widespread protests in order to protect our national identity and national interests.”
About a week ago, Mujibur Rahman, the spokesman for Chief Executive Officer, had said the ID cards distribution would be launched on Aug 19 in line with a decision of the Council of Ministers.
But a day earlier, President Ghani told reporters that the cards were not ready to be distributed citing technical and other issues. He said it was wrong to presume that the distribution drive had been brought to a halt by him or someone else.
Without going into details, the president said the population census law needed some amendments, which would be brought about over the next few weeks. He said the ID cards project was not an easy task as it required broad national consensus.
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