Lining up behind hundreds of fellow Afghans, Ghazanfar spent up to six hours each day over the past week waiting to register for Saturday’s elections. “Sun and rain, none of that has been a problem for me,” said Mr. Ghazanfar, a 46-year-old laborer in Kabul, who like many Afghans has only one name. “I am here to support a better future for Afghanistan.” The Taliban have launched a violent onslaught on Kabul and other Afghan cities in recent days, trying to disrupt the historic election. But, so far, the Taliban intimidation has failed to tamp down the enthusiasm of ordinary Afghans like Mr. Ghazanfar for the election, in which the country will pick a new leader after 13 years under President Hamid Karzai. Notwithstanding occasional violence and bureaucratic weakness that requires such registration waits, the country has gone through a full-fledged campaign, with crowded, nationwide rallies by the main candidates, and lively televised debates.
All of this activity has triggered a last-minute rush for voter cards by Afghans who hadn’t bothered to vote in previous elections, with lines snaking at registration offices across the country. Election officials predict a turnout far above the 4.6 million in the previous presidential election in 2009. “It’s heartening that there’s been this last-minute surge in interest,” said Nicholas Haysom, the United Nations’ deputy special representative for Afghanistan and the world body’s point man for the election.
For the Taliban, “a failure to disrupt the elections will mean that they have an egg on their face. So the stakes are quite high,” he added.
Indeed, if successful, Saturday’s vote will mark the first democratic transition in the country’s history. A legitimate election is indispensable for Afghanistan to continue receiving the billions of dollars in foreign aid that are needed to maintain the country’s economy and security forces once U.S.-led coalition troops depart in December.
Full Article: Many Afghans Intent on Voting Despite Terror – WSJ.com.