Afghans gear to vote despite ongoing crisis in as many as 20 out of 34 provinces

WION Delhi, India Oct 19, 2018, 10.56 PM(IST)

An Afghan election commission worker moves ballot boxes and election material in a warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan October 18, 2018. Photograph:( Reuters )

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More than 50 thousand members of Afghan security forces will be deployed to secure the polling stations. Afghan defence ministry spokesperson believes that the Taliban will attempt to disrupt the election process.

Over two thousand candidates, including 417 women, are contesting Saturday's parliamentary election in Afghanistan. Voters will be able to cast ballots at more than 19 thousand polling stations in all but one province. The election has been postponed in the restive Ghazni province. The Taliban has threatened to disrupt the polls.

On Thursday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on a high-level meeting inside the Kandahar governor's compound, wiping out the top political leadership of the province. Voting in Kandahar has also been postponed by a week. Here's a look at how Afghans are gearing up to brave the bullets to cast their ballot on Saturday.

Afghanistan is going ahead with the parliamentary election on Saturday in spite of security concerns and ongoing fighting in as many as 20 out of the country's 34 provinces. 

The election will be held amid a particularly vicious campaign by the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State terror group, which have been staging near-daily attacks. 

Besides the security challenges, there have also been concerns over the transparency of the vote. For the first time, the election commission has equipped polling stations with a biometric identification system.

Also read: Why Afghanistan election matters to India?

The deputy chair of the Election Commission said that while security remains a challenge, the commission is hopeful for a peaceful polling day. 

"We think that we will have some challenges on the polling day because of the security situation of Afghanistan but we had very good meetings with security people in different organisations and they are prepared for the polling day, and we hope to not have kind of attack in that day," Wasima Badghisi, Deputy Chair of Election Commission noted. 

More than 50 thousand members of Afghan security forces will be deployed to secure the polling stations. Afghan defence ministry spokesperson believes that the Taliban will attempt to disrupt the election process.

"They (Taliban) will try to create problems because if democracy and people's rights are established there will be no place for terrorism, killing of people and mafia but we assure you that we will ensure the security of elections with full force," Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, Afghan defence ministry spokesperson stated. 

But Jawed says that Afghan security forces have taken all necessary measures to ensure a peaceful polling day. Afghan officials announced three levels of security belts at each polling centre.

There have been deadly attacks against candidates and campaign rallies, both by the Taliban and the Islamic State terrorists. The Taliban, who have been fighting the Afghans and the NATO forces for more than 17 years, have condemned the election and warned candidates and Afghan security forces they would be targeted.

They have also warned teachers and students not to participate in the election and not to allow schools to be used as polling centres.