KABUL — The aboriginal day of January isn’t acclaimed as New Year’s Day in Afghanistan. But back the American invasion, it’s become a new affectionate of anniversary — a de facto altogether for bags of Afghans who don’t apperceive back they were born.
During abiding wars in the 1980s and ’90s, the government didn’t accept a arrangement in abode to annals births. Because identification cards and driver’s licenses weren’t accustomed in this bankrupt nation, families saw no acumen to almanac the exact dates. Government paperwork asked alone for an almost altogether on the Islamic calendar.
But back the United States and its NATO allies arrived, they brought with them a flurry of job opportunities, acceptance applications and Web sites that all appropriate a specific altogether on the Roman calendar.
“Those of us who don’t apperceive back we were built-in called January 1st,” said a U.S. Army analyst called Tariq, who aboriginal wrote the date on his job appliance with the aggressive and would echo it back he activated for a visa, and whenever anyone asked. “It was actual accessible to remember.”
Like abounding Afghans, Tariq, who requested that his aftermost name not be acclimated to abstain Taliban threats, has alone a ambiguous faculty of his birthday, which occurred during the country’s collapse into civilian war in the aboriginal 1990s.
The catechism of birthdays has arisen with alike greater abundance as Internet admission has become added widespread, with 3G networks advertised in the country’s above cities. Urban Afghans were quick to actualize accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, all of which ask for the registrant’s date of birth.
In the agenda age, the aggregate altogether has become article of an central antic here, as adolescent Afghans accelerate anniversary added letters to celebrate.
“Happy altogether to 30 accompany . . . whose birthdays are tomorrow on the aboriginal of January,” Barat Ali Batoor, an Afghan refugee in Australia, wrote on Facebook.
“In two days, it’s every Afghan’s birthday,” Mohammad Hassanzai, an Afghan active in London, tweeted Monday.
“I accept been application the 1st of January for every online allotment and amusing arrangement site,” said Nazer Hussain, 23, a contempo university alum who ashamed off a account of Web sites he active up for application his affected birthday. “In the past, bodies weren’t abstruse abundant to accumulate a almanac of birthdays.”
Some anguish that the abridgement of official bearing allotment — a botheration that persists today, decidedly in rural genitalia of the country — could accept austere implications.
“Birth allotment is active in attention added animal rights because it provides the official ‘proof’ of a child’s existence,” said a 2007 U.N. address on the topic. It listed Afghanistan as one of the 10 countries with the better numbers of unregistered children.
The bearing annal are advantageous in reuniting families afterwards conflicts or accustomed disasters, as able-bodied as in allowance accouchement administrate for refugee status. And in the absence of a census, institutionalized bearing allotment can action an appraisal of the country’s population.
“In Afghanistan, alike admitting civic legislation requires allotment of accouchement at birth, 23 years of battle decimated both the authoritative mechanisms and the amusing institutions that abutment them,” the U.N. address said.
Afghanistan isn’t the alone war-torn nation whose citizens accept called Jan. 1 as a makeshift birthday. In Vietnam, Somalia and Sudan, abounding bearing dates weren’t recorded during years of agitation and institutional upheaval. Back association activated for visas or refugee status, bags chose the aboriginal of the year — or, in some cases, the U.S. State Administration chose it for them. The administration has bestowed that altogether aloft added than 200,000 refugees back the Vietnam War, according to several estimates.
“These approximated bearing dates acquiesce the government to administrate allowances and clue and ascendancy clearing flow, but they abridgement both authoritativeness and accuracy,” Ross Pearson wrote in December in the Minnesota Law Review.
Afghans didn’t delay to be assigned official birthdays. As U.S. clearing attorneys accept accustomed hundreds of acceptance applications, they noticed that abounding of their audience had already abounding in their date of bearing as Jan. 1. Abounding Afghans who are additionally borderline which year they were built-in offered their best assumption on that line.
Most say they chose Jan. 1 because it was the easiest date to remember. But adolescent Afghans in accurate accept coalesced about it — adulatory a accumulation altogether that is additionally an absolute acceptance of their country’s troubles.
The country’s acclaimed actors, such as Basir Mujahid; its athletes, such as candid amateur Hasti Gul Abid; and its politicians, such as Mohammad Daud Daud, the above badge arch of arctic Afghanistan, all about bless their birthdays on Jan. 1.
Many Afghans, decidedly the young, digitally adeptness generation, abide analytical about their accurate birthdays. But their parents don’t action abundant clarity, or at atomic abundant to accreditation a change.
“I’m not sure,” Hussain said about his absolute birthday. “I anticipate it was ancient in the spring.”
Special contributor Mohammad Sharif contributed to this report.
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