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Afghans express fears and hopes on eve of vote

world Updated: Aug 19, 2009 20:56 IST

As a tense Afghanistan goes into voting tommorrow, having witnessed a spate of terror attacks and security offences as a build-up to the D-day, its people are determined to vote for change.

Haji Mohammad Ayub, 46, who lives in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, a militant-infested district west of Kandahar city.

"I would like to vote, but security is very bad in our district. The Taliban are very strong. The Americans and Canadians only drive on the paved roads. They don't come to our villages. The Taliban come and threaten that on election day we should stay at home. The people are afraid."

Haji Mohammad Rasool, 40, in the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual birthplace.

"I'm only afraid of God, not the Taliban. Last night during dinner I told my son and daughters to go and vote. This is our country. We should not live in fear."

Mohammad Akram, 50, a taxi driver in Kabul, referring to threatening letters left by militants at night that warn Afghans not to vote.

"One of my passengers this morning was a woman, and she said, 'Do you know about the night letters? The Taliban delivered night letters and said whoever goes to the polling center will go to hell."'

Abdul Jalal, 41, a shopkeeper in Kabul whose store is near where police battled three militants who took over a bank Wednesday.

"I voted in the last election for President Karzai, but this time around I don't want to vote for anyone. What has the government done for us? ... My cousin in Nad Ali told me this morning that the Taliban told taxi drivers not to take people to polling stations, that roadside bombs are all along the road." _ Haji Ubaidullah, 52, in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, Afghanistan's most violent province and the world's biggest opium-poppy growing region.
"Tomorrow we plan to go the polling center, but if it was like today, we will not vote. Elections are a good thing for Afghanistan, but security is more important."

Sayyad Abdul Wahab, 65, an elder who leads a tribe in an old Kabul neighborhood still bombed out from the civil war in the 1990s

"With 100 people from this village, I will go to the polling center! I don't care about these attacks! Over the past 30 years we've seen a lot of these things."

Abdul Qaddir, 20, a construction worker in Kabul

"I'm going to the polling center. The main concern is security. ... If a large crowd goes to the polling center, it will be safe. But, actually, I don't know where it is."

Khan Mohammad, 70, in the eastern province of Nangarhar

"I am not afraid of any violence. I want to cast my vote for Hamid Karzai."