NSIA: Nearly 13 Million People Have Electronic National IDs   

VANCOUVER, CANADA – The National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) under the Taliban reports that nearly 13 million people in Afghanistan have been issued electronic national ID cards.

In a post on X today, March 25, NSIA said that in the past solar year alone, electronic IDs have been distributed to more than 3 million people across Afghanistan. 

According to NSIA, Kabul witnessed the highest number of electronic IDs distributed last year, followed by Herat, Balkh, and Nangarhar.

Most of those receiving the ID cards are men, nearly double the number of women. The country’s census agency that operates under the Taliban authority says they have issued electronic national IDs to nearly 7 million people since the group’s taking control of Afghanistan.

The new figures reported by the Taliban invite questions about their credibility. Last August, NSIA’s Taliban-appointed director, Faqir Ahmad Ziyar, had said that 4.6 million people had received the new ID cards since the Taliban’s takeover, pushing the aggregate numbers to 10.7 million.

The new figures imply that the group issued nearly 2.5 million new ID cards in the recent six months, more than half of what they processed in two years.

The issuance of electronically readable national IDs is the closest the country has come to a national census since the last one it conducted more than four decades ago. Even that process, undertaken in 1979, covered only 67% of the country due to limitations caused by security in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Since then, the country’s aggregate population as well as the percentage of various ethnolinguistic groups have only been estimated based on other factors. Identity politics and the implications of a credible census on each community’s claim to power and resources have for long turned into a national controversy what could be a technical and bureaucratic process.

Even the new ID cards had become widely divisive in the wake of its introduction in April 2018. The country’s president at the time, Ashraf Ghani, had amended through a decree the legislation that had provided for the issuance of the national documents. According to the bill, neither nationality nor ethnicity would be printed on the card. The amendment had added the nationality as “Afghan” on the card, igniting fierce opposition from non-Pashtun groups who thought of the decision as enforcing an ethnic identity as the national label for a diverse and multi-ethnic society.

While the Taliban continue to issue the national documents under the banner of the state it deposed two years ago, it is not clear whether the regime also considers the legislations underneath such processes enforceable.