The National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) is ready to review the 54 new ethnic designations that were recently added to the existing 14 ethnic groups used on the national identity cards--if the government orders it.
The 54 ethnic group designations were added to the NSIA website, which is used to process online applications for national identity cards.
Article 4 of the Constitution says that “the nation of Afghanistan shall be comprised of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkman, Baluch, Pachaie, Nuristani, Aymaq, Arab, Qirghiz, Qizilbash, Gujur, Brahwui and other tribes.”
However, according to the new list, 54 other ethnic groups have been added, including: Ormar, Barachi, Kurd, Jogi, Shahkhiliyan, Shaikh Mohammadiyan, Kawar, Khalili, Pamiri, Manjani, Sangichi, Ishkashimi, Roshnaee, Wakhani, Shoghnani, Turk, Qarloq, Tatar, Mughul, Sakaee, Dawlat Khani, Taimani, Albeg, Qazaq, Sajani, Qoshkhaniyan, Bayat, Nimaq, Qabchaq, Nikpai, Kohgadari, Daimirk, Mir Sayeda, Jamshidiyan, Afshariyan, Tahiriyan, Saljoqis, Timurids, Barlas-Arlas, Ailkhani, Yaftali, Laqyan, Kawi, Qozi, Abka, Joghtaee, Karaee, Karam Ali, Skhaikh Ali, Orta Balaqi, Uyghur, Baborids and Formuli.
The decision sparked reactions from political parties, activists and citizens.
The NSIA said that the new list for adding the ethnic groups was prepared by the Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs.
“We had the authority to add the ethnic groups to the list of the electronic identity card system, but this does not mean dividing ethnic groups or making them smaller,” NSIA spokesperson Robina Shahabi said.
The NSIA said that it will not reverse its decision unless it gets an order by the government to review it.
“If any ethnic groups visit (the NSIA) along with their official representatives, and if there is an official application to recognize an ethnicity, the NSIA will have no reservation (in adding it),” Shahabi said.
Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the former vice president and head of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, said the decision went against the country’s national interests and that it will open the way for another era of ethnic totalitarianism that will not have good consequences.
“They want to show that these ethnic groups have less influence and population in Afghanistan,” said Ehsan Niro, Dostum’s spokesman.
Some politicians said that the plan has mostly divided Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras into different clusters.
Former intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil said the plan is opening the way for ethnic division in the country.
“In a situation where we need unity to defend the republic, we come and --deliberately or not--weaken the pillars of the republic,” said Nabil.
Some Afghans from different parts of the country called the move an organized plan to fuel ethnic division in the country.
“They should be ashamed. They should fear God,” said Wahidullah Kabuli, a Kabul resident.
“We should become united. Pashtuns, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Tajiks all are brothers,” said Imamuddin, a Kabul resident.