Half of Barmal district residents ‘hold Pakistani ID cards’

KABUL (TOLONews): A senior local official acknowledged that almost half of the population of Paktika’s Barmal district, in the east of Afghanistan, have been issued Pakistani identity cards while the residents are “easily” allowed to travel to other side of the border.

Barmal District Governor Rahmatullah said that getting a Pakistani identity card is an easy task for the residents.

With an estimated 88,000 population, Barmal lies along the Durand line, bordering with North Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The main town is Angur Ada.

The population of Barmal is Pashtun, predominantly from the Kharoti and Wazir tribes. Barmal lies in an area of particularly rugged terrain.

According to the district governor, the identity cards mention Barmal as main residence of the cards holders.

Rahmatullah said the issue is “concerning” and that it requires a “thorough investigation”.

“It is almost 50 percent,” said the district governor as he pointed out to the percentage of the population who hold Pakistani identity cards. “So far, we have not played a specific role to prevent this but everyone is aware about this matter,” he added.

Two members of Paktika Provincial Council said government should not stay “reluctant” to investigate the issue.

“Government should pay a serious attention to the country’s borders and the borders must be fortified,” said Mubin Faqirzada, member of Paktika Provincial Council.

“People should be provided adequate services by government. Why people have to send their children to schools on the other side of the border on a routine basis?” asked Nematullah Baburi, member of the council, adding that children are enrolled in schools which are located on the other side of the Durand Line – the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Paktika Governor, Mujiburrahman Samkanai, meanwhile, said the issue will be followed by relevant organizations.

“We should oppose this practice and we should prevent it and we should not allow Pakistani identity cards to be issued in Afghanistan,” he said.

This comes after residents said last month that Pakistani curriculum is being taught in Barmal schools and that there is no school with a curriculum of the Afghan Ministry of Education.