Presidential vote today: Afghans torn between fear and sense of duty

Published: Sep 28, 2019, 09:28 IST | Agencies | Kabul

The Taliban have relentlessly issued threats against Saturday's vote

Afghan men, wounded in a suicide bombing outside a campaign rally for Ashraf Ghani, receive treatment at a hospital. File pic/AFP
Afghan men, wounded in a suicide bombing outside a campaign rally for Ashraf Ghani, receive treatment at a hospital. File pic/AFP

Kabul: Torn between fear, frustration and a sense of duty, Ahmad is undecided about defying Taliban warnings not to vote in this weekend's Afghan presidential election. He has good reason to think twice: His index finger was chopped off by Taliban members after he voted in the presidential election five years ago. The Taliban have relentlessly issued threats against Saturday's vote. The insurgent group has sent suicide bombers to rallies and election offices, killing dozens and warning they will kill more.

"I know for the love of my country I should vote, but I look at the candidates and I think none of them are worth the risk," he said. Outside each of the 4,942 polling centres across the country, three distinct cordons of security will be set up. Despite the government's best efforts, 431 polling centres will be closed Saturday because Andarabi, the interior minister, said they were too difficult to secure -- either because they were under Taliban control or Taliban could threaten nearby villages.

Ahmad can't help but vividly recall his experience after the 2014 election. Day after voting, Ahmad and 11 others were taken before a four-member Taliban panel and told they would lose the part of their finger covered in ink as punishment for voting. "I was so relieved I wasn't going to lose my head I said: 'Go ahead.'" Taliban members administered anaesthetic before chopping off his finger, he said. Now, the Taliban are again warning voters to stay away from the polls.

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