Afghanistan: Black market passports a lucrative income source for many

Photo: Reuters.

Two months ago the Taliban stopped issuing passports in Afghanistan but the essential travel document can be procured on the black market for a staggering $3,000, sources familiar with the practice told Amu TV.

According to a passport department employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Taliban distribute passports to their own members and to so-called passport dealers on a daily basis.

“The process of distributing passports to Taliban members and dealers on a daily basis has become a good source of income for the Taliban. Taliban members can get passports by bringing an official letter from the relevant institutions,” the employee said.

He added that passport department employees work three days a week and that they distribute passports to Taliban members.

For members of the public, getting a passport remains a big challenge. One woman said she sold her gold bracelets to get one but was unable to because “the dealers” wanted $3,000.

“I wanted to get a passport for my daughter, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get the passport. The dealers want $3,000 and will hand over the passport within three days. The broker demanded the amount when I called him two days ago,” she said.

In the past, when the passport office was open, a passport could be gotten for 100,000 AFN (about $1,150) on the black market. “But now, after the closure of this office, the dealers have increased the rate to $3,000 for each passport,” Maryam added.

This department closed two months ago. The Taliban said it was closed for equipment to be repaired and services to be improved.

Amu TV made several phone calls to the Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi and the spokesman for the passport directorate Noorullah Patman but failed to reach them.

Abdul Karim Hasib was appointed as head of the passport directorate on 24 of Mizan (October 16 in Persian calendar), replacing Abdul Hakim Hamidi. Initially, after the Taliban takeover, Alam Gul Haqqani was appointed as head of the passport directorate. He served in this position for five months but was dismissed after his brother was found guilty of selling passports and of committing moral crimes. Haqqani’s successor Abdul Hakim Hamidi served in the position for eight months.

On 16 Mizan (October 8) the Taliban announced that they distribute 3,000 to 5,000 passports on a daily basis. They said applicants pay 10,000 AFN ($110) for each passport which is valid for ten years. Based on these figures, it appears the Taliban makes 30 to 50 million Afghanis in revenue on a daily basis.