Afghanistan launches new ID cards amid row over ethnicity

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani launched new electronic ID cards on Thursday and faced immediate opposition from his own government, Reuters reports. The new system has fuelled bitter rows over ethnic politics – just months before parliamentary elections are due. The much-delayed ‘e-tezkera’ system, named after the local term for identity cards, is intended to reduce fraud and streamline public administration. It could also give a clearer picture of the population by centralizing data on one digitized card. “E-tezkera will help security in the country,” Ghani said at a ceremony during which he received the first card to be issued. However, the inclusion of a national identity denomination has been rejected by some groups. The new system designates a holder’s nationality as “Afghan” – a term used in the past to denote Pashtuns, traditionally the most politically powerful ethnic group.