Taliban Arrests Dozens for Allegedly Selling Illegal Passports to Desperate Travelers

Taliban fighters guard at an entrance as women wait in a queue during a World Food Programme cash distribution in Kabul on November 29, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty

Afghanistan’s Passport Department announced Monday the recent arrest of at least 75 “middlemen” and “dozens of other commission agents” for allegedly selling or attempting to sell “fake” Afghan passports and identification cards to an unknown number of people in Afghanistan.

“A group of commission agents issuing fake passports and identity cards to people were arrested two days ago [December 4],” Alam Gul Haqqani, the Acting Director of Afghanistan’s Passport Department, told reporters at a press briefing on December 6 in Kabul.

“We are following the middlemen and steps are being taken to arrest them,” Haqqani added.

“Some time back, a passport could be obtained illegally in return for $1600 [USD] and an electronic identity card for 10,000 afghanis,” Pajhwok Afghan News recalled on December 6.

The news agency referred to its own November 15 report which revealed how “the price of one passport had reached $1600 in the black market.”

Pajhwok Afghan News did not specify if the Afghan passports and identifications cards for sale on the black market in recent weeks were fake, such as the ones described by Haqqani on Monday, or authentic.

The recent upsurge in demand for Afghan passports suggests many people in Afghanistan are desperate to leave the country. The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 by deposing Kabul’s U.S.-supported government. Since then, the hardline Sunni group — which previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2000 — has reinstated a ruling system based on sharia, or the group’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law, over the country’s populace.

A group of Afghan refugees stranded in Indonesia for roughly a decade while waiting for transport to a third country reportedly sewed their lips shut in recent days to protest their situation, Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported on December 6. The news site did not specify the number of Afghan refugees who participated in the gruesome protest this week but said the group hoped to “draw attention to what they claim is the failure of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address their problems and process their asylum-seeking cases.”

“According to the figures of a refugee association in Indonesia, around 4,000 Afghan refugees have been stranded in Indonesia for resettlement in a third country,” Tolo News relayed. “They said that the officials of Jakarta have not allowed them to work legally in the country.”

“It has been seven to ten years that Afghan refugees are living in Indonesia,” Asif Rahimi, an Afghan refugee residing in Indonesia, told the news site.

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