25K Afghan biometric passports ready to be issued, 100K more to follow
Afghanistan has begun to issue passports again after months of delay which hampered the attempts of many to leave the country as the Taliban took control in August, reports The Daily Sabah.
Up to 25,000 biometric passports were ready to be issued, the new director of the passport office, Mawlawi Alem Gul Haqqani, said at a press conference. Between 5,000 to 6,000 would be issued each day. A further 100,000 applications are at earlier stages of processing and around 170,000 people had applied before the Taliban took control.
The new documents are physically identical to those issued by the previous government bearing the same title, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, until a new decision is made, suggesting the passport is office is working with its existing supply of booklets.
At the end of September it was reported that the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan still recognized previously issued national ID cards and passports as valid legal documents and that only those who had already registered their biometrics would be able to obtain credentials.
“No male employee has the right to perform a biometric (check) or other passport work on a woman,” Mawlawi Alem Gul Haqqani told reporters in Kabul, as quoted by The Daily Sabah. Female employees have been recalled, apparently to handle passport matters and capture the biometrics of female applicants.
The Afghan passport is currently ranked as the weakest in the world, allowing visa-free entry to just four countries and visa on arrival for just 28. Holders need to go through a full visa application for the remaining 166 countries. The Global Passport Power Rank 2021 places the United Arab Emirates passport in poll position, allowing visa-free entry to 98 countries and visa on arrival in 54.
Meanwhile, neighboring Pakistan is controlling the flow of U.S. dollars into Afghanistan and requiring biometric verification of anyone wanting to conduct large foreign currency exchanges, reports Geo News.
Pakistan is suffering from an outflow of dollars which is having a depreciating effect on its rupee. The State Bank of Pakistan has brought in measures to curb the depreciation amid reports of dollars being smuggled into Afghanistan and Afghans living in Pakistan hoarding large amounts of dollars.
Travelers to Afghanistan will be limited to $1,000 per person per visit up to a maximum of $6,000 per year. Exchange companies must conduct biometric verification for all foreign currency sale transactions and remittances equivalent to $500 or over.