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Thousands rush to passport office in Herat after Taliban announces increased distribution

Thousands of people stormed the passport office in western Herat province on Thursday after the Taliban announced an increase in daily passport distribution in the province.

The Taliban’s governor in Herat, Noor Ahmad Islamjar, made the announcement on Wednesday while inaugurating the new passport office in the province. He said that up to 1,000 passports would now be distributed in Herat every day.

According to the Taliban-controlled Bakhtar News Agency, the increase in passport distribution was ordered by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group’s interior minister.

The announcement has led to a surge in demand for passports, with thousands of people lining up outside the office to apply. Some residents of Herat province have said that they have been waiting for hours behind the gate of the passport office, but no one has answered them.

The distribution of passports has been erratic in Afghanistan in recent years. Local sources say that previously only up to 200 passports were issued daily in Herat.

The Taliban has recently announced that it will start distributing passports for the citizens of Afghanistan in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and China.

The issuance of passports has been suspended several times since the Taliban retook power in August 2021. Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee the country since then, fearing the Taliban’s repressive rule and amid enduring hunger and poverty.

Afghanistan’s passports are currently printed outside the country and carry the logo and details of the previous government. The Taliban has changed the country’s flag, emblem, and official logos, but the passports have not yet been changed.

According to the Henley Passport Index, Afghanistan’s passport is ranked the least powerful travel document in the world, facilitating entry to no country without a visa.