Afghanistan Election: Taliban Threaten to Mutilate Voters
Thursday's presidential election in Afghanistan is likely to yield a low voter turnout, as Taliban has threatened to cut off the fingers, noses and ears of anyone who dares to enter a polling station. The Taliban are particularly strong in the Pashtun-areas of Afghanistan, where the support for current president Hamid Karzai is the strongest.
The Taliban were in complete control of large areas of Afghanistan when voter registration was completed earlier this year, and as a result, many Afghans have failed to register to vote. There are also a large number of towns without polling stations. Many Afghans fear the American troops cannot protect them from the Taliban if they choose to vote.
Current polls suggest that president Hamid Karzai are ahead of the other candidates, but the results can be different if the Pashtuns do not vote. The other leading candidates are: Abdullah Abdullah, former minister of foreign affairs; Ramazan Bashardost, member of the Afghan Parliament; Ashraf Ghani, former World Bank official and finance minister.
The Taliban have surged in strength since 2005. Mr. Karzai, though he is the leading candidate, is vastly more unpopular than he was then. As a result, Taliban leaders are actively trying to disrupt the candidates’ campaigns and preparations for the vote.
And even for the few voters willing to risk mutilation, many would have to walk miles up bomb-strewn unpaved roads to reach the ballot box.