Afghanistan to start issuing passports again after months of delays

Published October 6, 2021
KABUL: A female journalist attends a news conference on Tuesday at which the Taliban officials announced they will start issuing passports to citizens again following months of delays. — Reuters
KABUL: A female journalist attends a news conference on Tuesday at which the Taliban officials announced they will start issuing passports to citizens again following months of delays. — Reuters

KABUL: Afghanistan will start issuing passports to its citizens again, a senior official said on Tuesday, following months of delays that hampered attempts by those trying to flee the country after the Taliban seized control in August.

The process, which had slowed even before the Taliban’s return to power following the withdrawal of US forces, will provide applicants with documents physically identical to those issued by the previous government, the official said.

Alam Gul Haqqani, the acting head of the passport office, said between 5,000 and 6,000 passports would be issued each day, with women being employed to process those meant for female citizens.

“No male employee has the right to perform a biometric (check) or other passport work on a woman,” he told reporters in Kabul, the capital.

Interior ministry spokesman Qari Sayeed Khosti told the briefing that 25,000 applicants had reached the final stage of paying for passports, with roughly 100,000 applications in the earlier stages of the process pending.

Outside the passport office in Kabul, a resident, Najia Aman, said she was relieved it was open again, so that a member of her family could get a document to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“I am very happy the passport office has been re-opened,” she said. “We faced a lot of problems and we could not get a passport to go to Pakistan for his treatment.”

Women’s soccer team

Members of the Afghan women’s soccer team are uncertain about their future after evacuation to Australia following the Taliban takeover, captain Shabnam Mobarez said on Tuesday.

Australia evacuated more than 50 Afghan women soccer players, athletes and their dependents after the Taliban seized control of the capital, Kabul, on Aug 15.

Mobarez, who lives in the United States, said the evacuated Afghan players were receiving good care in Australia, but were still confused about their future.

“It is very unsure, the situation they are in right now,” Mobarez told Sky Sports.

“It was a traumatising experience getting out. Now they are trying to get used to this whole normal new life.

“I am sure they are very confused and in shock because they left family and friends behind.”

During their previous period of rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban severely curtailed women’s rights, including banning them from education and work.

Last month, a senior Taliban official told Australia’s SBS News women would not be allowed to play cricket, a popular sport in Afghanistan — or possibly any other — as it was “not necessary” and their bodies might be exposed.

Mobarez said the Taliban takeover had put the future of women’s soccer at risk.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2021

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