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. Ahmad asked that his family name and other details about his identity not be published for fear of retaliation by Taliban insurgents, who have greater control in his district than the government of President Ashraf Ghani, one of two front-runners in the race.
Afghan officials say security preparations have been elaborate. In an interview with The Associated Press, Minister of interior Masoud Andarabi outlined an election security plan that he said has been more than eight months in the making.
Outside each of the 4,942 polling centers across the country, three distinct cordons of security will be set up. The first two security rings closest to each polling center will be manned by police and intelligence officers. Afghan National Army personnel will be deployed to the third and most distant cordon. "For the first time eight months ago, we started planning for the Afghan elections (and) for the first time the Afghan security forces were leading and initiating the planning," he said.