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Afghan Electoral Body Worried At 'Fake Poll Card' Reports

ECC spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafat (file photo)
ECC spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafat (file photo)
The Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has expressed concern over a report that some printing houses in Pakistan have been involved in "illegally publishing" voting papers for the September 18 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

ECC spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafat was responding to a report in which the owner of a printing house in Pakistan's northern city of Peshawar showed RFE/RL's correspondent some voter registration cards they had printed at the request of an unidentified candidate and spoke about prices.

Rafat told RFE/RL that such practices could have "negative political implications" for Afghanistan and said the Afghan government "must deal with this issue through diplomatic channels."

In last year's presidential election allegations of fake voter registration cards were widespread.

"The electoral process is a national process which must not be endangered by other countries. The security organs should not only follow this up in Pakistan but also be all set to prevent these forged ballot papers from being used during election day," he said.

The owner of one printing house in Peshawar, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that the process of publishing these voter registration cards had been going on since the start of the electoral campaign in Afghanistan on June 25.

"Each individual candidate who has referred to us has asked us to publish around 60,000 papers. We have not set a fixed fee for the publishing work. We have charged them between 200 to 300 rupees per ballot," the owner said.

It's not clear how widespread the practice is or how many candidates might be involved.

The claim comes as a report by a U.S. government watchdog said Afghanistan's electoral process was "plagued by deep-rooted problems."

The report by the Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the body that works to identify fraud has become "less independent" since last year's fraud-marred presidential vote.