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Feb 12, 2019
Documents show PRD facilitated fraud in Wolesi Jirga polls
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Population Registration Department (PRD) ‘paved the way’ for rigging in the October Wolesi Jirga elections by distributing demographic forms to a number of candidates, some sources allege.
The PRD had started a special ID card (Tazkira) distribution process only for people eligible to participate in elections before the Wolesi Jirga polls on October 20, 2018.
Through the process, it was expected that distribute 10 million ID cards would be issued to eligible voters across the country but the PRD says it distributed only five million cards.
However, some sources which provided documents to Pajhwok Afghan News claimed that ‘tens of thousands’ of ID cards were forged during the campaign and then distributed to ‘ghost individuals’.
The documents and evidence shared with Pajhwok show that Hamayon Muhtat, the PRD chief and a number of officers had distributed tens of thousands of empty demographic forms to facilitate fraud in the Wolesi Jirga and presidential elections.
Distribution of empty demographic forms to candidates
On June 5, 2018, Hamayon Muhtat gave 10,000 demographic forms to Abdul Baqi Malakzada, a Wolesi Jirga candidate and current member of the lower house from Takhar province, but Malakzada did not hand the forms over to the regional PRD office.
After not receiving the forms, the Takhar PRD office a statement had said that Malakzada distributed 9,000 demographic forms in a number of districts of the province.
Violation of agreement between PRD and IEC
Based on a cooperation agreement signed between the PRD and the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the central PRD office should distribute ID cards without any regional, tribal, linguistic, religious or gender discrimination and without influence of candidates.
However, the PRD violated the agreement by distributing thousands of demographic forms to a number of candidates.
The article first of the agreement says: “Any type of ID card distributed in any form to a person as a voter is a responsibility of the PRD which will be accountable for that.”
The PRD is yet to explain the distribution of fake ID cards to people which was exposed by the Grand National Alliance (GNA) and social media users.
On September 1, 2018, the GNA revealed thousands of fake ID cards to journalists during a conference and said the cards were forged in cooperation with the PRD for manipulation of the election outcome.
Members of the GNA had claimed that the number of fake ID cards were around 100,000 and had been distributed in 33 provinces of the country.
They had said most of the ID cards were registered with the PRD and IEC workers used them as valid cards in the voter registration process.
Docs about fake ID cards
Documents obtained by Pajhwok show that some of these fake ID cards are without photos of the persons, lacked characteristics of the holder.
In some cards one photo was used, others were issued to underage people and Iranian and Pakistani nationals and in some cards photos of Indians and Iranian artists and those downloaded from social media were used.
Hiring inexperienced people in ID cards distribution process
A video clip of the exam scene of applicants for ID cards shows many applicants sitting together and a person asks questions in loud voice and the applicants collectively answer.
Meanwhile, a PRD official, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok ‘serious problems’ plagued their department’s employment process.
He confirmed exams taken from new employees in some provinces were not held transparently.
He claimed appointments were not based on the short list of candidates. Those failing the exam in more than 400 administrative units, including 1,053 distribution teams, had been hired across the country, he alleged.
According to the source, the appointees were not literate enough to read and write. The uneducated employees include ghost workers from certain provinces.
An employee of the Population Registration Department, who declined to be named, told Pajhwok one billion afghanis had been allocated for the distribution of 10 million tazkiras to eligible citizens for voting in the elections. But the department spent only five million afghanis.
Assailing leaders of the Population Registration Department, the source explained poor management had resulted in forgery and irregularities in the card distribution process.
Not only the department’s leadership but managers and employees were also involved in abuse and fraud by unlawfully selling tazkira forms to candidates they had links with.
Calling the distribution drive full of fraud, he said there were hundreds of thousands of fake cards having special tags for the election. They were registered in the database.
The source revealed ID cards had also been issued in names of Indian actresses (Katrina Kaif, Sunny Leone and Juhi Chawla). He disclosed many Iranian and Pakistani nationals had been able to obtain Afghan ID cards in border areas as a result of weak management of the Population Registration Department.
“In registration documents, profiles were not included initially. Only photographs were required. But a delegation appointed by the Presidential Palace later forced the addition of profiles to the books,” he informed.
Poor management and misuse of the temporary distribution campaign made Afghan citizenship unreliable and even worthless. The department concerned did not dare confirm it.
“All employees of the department witnessed the flawed distribution drive and a mismatch of thousands of demographic formats in different provinces, but no one raised a voice. Unfortunately, the project turned out to be a failure,” he lamented.
Another official of the department, speaking on condition of anonymity, also hit out at the extra costs of the ID card distribution campaign. Of the five million ID cards distributed, about a million were issued to people under 18.
“The distribution drive was 30 percent successful and 70 percent unsuccessful. Each paper ID card might have been worth 333 afghanis,” he reckoned.
According to him, everyone is critical of the election commission but the fact is the main culprit is the Population Registration Department with regard to the distribution of the ID cards that paved the way for fraud and rigging.
Criticism from Observers
Election observers, criticising activities of the Population Registration Department and Independent Election Commission (IEC), say lack of coordination had raised serious questions about transparency in the October 20-21 vote.
Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada, executive director of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), slammed the large-scale distribution of fake ID cards,
He said: “Unfortunately, we all witnessed that widespread fraud and rigging in the card distribution drive.” He linked distribution of fake cards to the delay in Wolesi Jirga election results.
Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) chief Yousuf Rashid also criticized the Population Registration Department (PRD) and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and said he wished there was coordination in the ID cards distribution and the voter registration process.
He said if there had coordination among the certain institutions, today there would not have been questions raised such about election rigging.
Independent Election Commission (IEC)
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Sadat, IEC deputy spokesman, said they had also received information about distribution of fake national ID cards, but IEC officials needed tools to recognize such ID cards.
He added that tens of thousands of voters had been removed from the voter lists for missing their date of birth, required age (18 years) and incorrect information or fake information in their national ID cards.
The IEC has entered all voters’ ID cards data to the database system but due to lack of electronic information bank at the PRD, the ID cards information could not be matched.
Population Registration Department
Roeena Shahabi, PRD spokesman, said the topic was outdated and did not need to be discussed whether the PRD chief or other staff had distributed demographic forms.
She said their department never distributed demographic forms but some individuals with malicious designs had been attempting to derail the national process.
She said the October 20 and 21 Wolesi Jirga elections were not possible if the ID cards distribution process was not successful.
She rejected as baseless propaganda that Pakistanis had been issued Afghan ID cards and if there was any evidence in this regard it should be directly shared with the judicial organs.
When asked how many ID cards were distributed to eligible people during the voter registration process ahead of the Wolesi Jirga elections and how much the process cost, she said such questions should be asked from the PRD leadership.
However, PRD officials did not provide information about these questions.
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