So Many People Want to Leave Afghanistan That the Kabul Passport System Broke

So Many People Want to Leave Afghanistan That the Kabul Passport System Broke

The Taliban-run passport office in Kabul shut down on Tuesday, ostensibly because its biometric equipment and computer systems could not handle the enormous demand for travel documents.

Director Alam Gul Haqqani estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people were camped outside the passport office, a crowd at least five times as big as the office could handle.

“To stop people suffering this and to avoid disturbance, we have decided to stop the activities of the passport department for a few days,” Haqqani said, promising operations would resume soon.

Issuing passports in #Kabul has been stopped. Thousands people returned back home hopelessly on d Tuesday morning. Issuing passport was d only service #Taliban were delivering 2 people after they took over. There is no public service from the so called government in #Afghanistan.

— Kabir Haqmal (@Haqmal) November 16, 2021

Haqqani said in late October that every Afghan citizen was entitled to receive a passport under the Taliban government. He envisioned his office gearing up to issue 5,000 to 6,000 passports a day.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the office days before it was open for business, prompting Taliban thugs to beat them away from the door. The Taliban soon began strongly hinting that educated and highly skilled people should remain in Afghanistan to “play their part in rebuilding” the country.

Since the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” is not recognized by any other nation at present, passports are still using the name of the overthrown U.S.-supported government, the “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Even under that identity, Afghanistan’s passports provide access to the fewest foreign countries of any country in the world.

Afghan civilians grumbled that the passport office opened weeks behind schedule, and once it commenced operations, a great deal of bribe money was needed to obtain documents.

The Taliban’s interior ministry announced Tuesday that 60 people have been arrested for using fake documents to obtain passports, including several employees of the passport department. The ministry also announced the arrest of a man who allegedly sold 130 women into slavery after tricking them into thinking he was setting them up with rich husbands.

On Sunday, the Taliban passport directorate announced it would open branch operations in seven provinces to relieve pressure on the Kabul office. 

Haqqani claimed on Sunday the directorate had issued 100,000 passports, a million more were rolling off the printers, and his office had enough supplies to produce another six million after that.

John Hayward