|The cards look like genuine voting cards, though they may not withstand scrutiny. (Riaz Khan/ Associated Press)|
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Printers in this city near the Afghan border say they have produced thousands of fake voter registration cards at the request of Afghan lawmakers for use in that country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.
The cards, some shown to the Associated Press, add to evidence that fraud could undermine the elections and further destabilize the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.
A fraud-marred presidential election last year threatened the credibility of the Afghan administration at home and with the Western nations waging war on the country’s resurgent Taliban.
Voting regulation has been improved, but an influx of fake cards raises the possibility of a person with multiple cards voting many times and could still cause problems in an insecure country where monitoring of polling stations will probably be spotty.
Three printers told the AP that Afghan election candidates had traveled to the walled heart of the ancient city about an hour from the border and provided them with samples of Afghan voter registration cards.
The printers said they had produced thousands of cards, along with plastic sheaths to laminate them, for roughly 23 cents apiece. The fakes shown to the AP resembled genuine Afghan cards, but it was not clear they would withstand scrutiny.
Tariq Khan, a 32-year-old printer, told the AP that times were tough for printers in Peshawar, and he had accepted the registration card requests because it was more profitable than ordinary work.