Biometric technology to be used in Afghan election

In this file photo, an Afghan election official empties a ballot box to count the numbers of ballots on the first day of the counting process inside the United Nations compound at Herat airport, Sept. 20, 2005. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018

Biometric technology to be used in Afghan election

KABUL: As part of a move to minimize fraud, and meeting a key demand of the opposition alliance, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Saturday said it will use biometric technology during next month’s parliamentary election.
The move comes days after the closure of several IEC offices in major cities by loyalists of the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan (GNCA), which raised further skepticism about the government’s ability to hold the long-delayed election amid a rise in militant attacks and ethnic tensions.
The parliamentary election will be followed by a presidential one in April in which President Ashraf Ghani will stand. 
Past foreign-funded elections convened since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001 were mired by allegations of fraud.
The GNCA, which includes former and current key officials in Ghani’s government, said the use of biometric technology blocks voters from voting multiple times.
Hafizullah Hashimi, a commissioner at the IEC, said the government has bought biometric technology from a German firm.
The equipment will arrive in early October, and will be placed in 21,000 sites ahead of voting day, he added.
“It’s easy to use and to train people,” he told Arab News. “It can work offline or online, and can pass data directly to the IEC data center.”
Mohammad Nateqi, a senior member of the GNCA, told Arab News that the biometric system “brings transparency,” adding: “This is a good thing and we welcome it.”
The GNCA hopes to have a trilateral meeting with the government and the firm that will put in place the biometric technology, he said.
Habibullah Shinwari, a senior member of the Election and Transparency Watch Organization of Afghanistan (ETWA), expressed doubt that the government and the IEC will be able to put the equipment in place in time for the election.
“Logically and technically it isn’t possible. This is only aimed at calming down the opposition to reopen the (IEC) offices it closed,” he told Arab News.


Appeal opens against acquittal of Briton convicted in Daniel Pearl killing

Updated 01 December 2020

Appeal opens against acquittal of Briton convicted in Daniel Pearl killing

  • Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh on hold
  • The American journalist was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants

ISLAMABAD: An appeal against the controversial acquittal of a British-born militant convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl opened at a Pakistani court on Tuesday.
A Karachi court sparked outrage earlier this year when it overturned the 2002 murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and acquitted three other men connected to the case.
Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of the four men on hold.
“The case has finally opened, it will be decided whether they should be convicted or acquitted. The case is heading to a final verdict,” Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Pearl’s parents, told AFP.
The appeal, which has been frequently postponed in recent months, will hear opening arguments in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.
Sheikh had been on death row for Pearl’s murder but was acquitted in April by the Sindh High Court which instead sentenced him to seven years for kidnapping — paving the way for him to walk free after already serving 18 years.
Three co-defendants who were serving life sentences in connection to the case were acquitted.
Pearl was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.
Pearl’s killing stirred international condemnation of Pakistan’s military government just as it was remaking its image after years of backing the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.