HERAT -- With the campaign season over, voting booths and ballots distributed, and security in place, Afghans are prepared to participate in the presidential election on Saturday (September 28).
The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have been working together for months to ensure all election materials were delivered to polling centres across Afghanistan.
"All the sensitive election materials" such as ballots and biometric devices "have been sent to all districts of Herat, and the relevant election personnel have been deployed," said Muhammad Daud Sediqzad, Herat Province chief of the IEC.
"Afghan National Army helicopters have taken the sensitive election materials to the remote districts of Chesht-e-Sharif, Obe, Farsi and Gulran," he said.
"We have recruited more than 11,000 personnel to conduct the election in Herat Province, and they have all received the necessary training," he said. "We have taken all the necessary preparations throughout Herat Province to conduct the election."
Voting centres ready to open doors
"We have conducted operations in Farah Province to ensure security in the districts, which have strengthened security [throughout the province]," Farah Provincial Governor Mohammad Shoaib Sabet said in an interview.
Election materials have reached all the districts and preparations are in place for conducting the election, he said.
"There are 109 voting centres in Ghor Province, and all of them will be open," said Ghor Provincial Governor Ghulam Naser Khaze.
"Tough security measures are in place for conducting the election," he said.
"In the past month, we have expelled the Taliban from more than 100 villages, and the election will take place in many areas," he said. "Election materials have been transferred to 10 districts of Ghor, and the government is in full control of all the districts of the province."
"There are more than 70 voting centres in Badghis Province, and all these centres will be open on election day," said Badghis Provincial Governor Abdul Ghafoor Malakzai.
"We reassure the residents of Badghis that the election will be held in all the districts," he said. "We just have some minor security issues in Bala Murghab District, but the security forces have taken strict measures to conduct the election in that district."
Robust security measures
Robust security measures are in place to thwart Taliban threats and to secure voting centres throughout Afghanistan.
"[More than] 100,000 security personnel have been assigned to protect voting centres, voters and the overall election," said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
"[About] 72,000 National Police, National Army and National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel will guard the voting centres on election day and ensure better security, while another 30,000 personnel will be on alert and will be deployed as needed," he said.
"All the security forces consisting of National Police, NDS forces, National Army, Border Forces, commando squads and the Air Force have made preparations to secure the election in the western region," Herat Governor Abdul Qayum Rahimi said in an interview.
"The Air Force has started its manoeuvres, and it's flying day and night over all the areas of the western region, and wherever the enemy is spotted, they are killed in either air strikes or ground operations by our forces," he said.
Defying Taliban threats
More than 9.6 million Afghans have registered to vote in the presidential election, according to the IEC, indicating that almost all Afghan citizens aged 18 and above have registered.
"People are unhappy with the Taliban," said Hasan Hakimi, a civil society activist in Ghor Province.
Voters "participate in the presidential election to show their hatred of the Taliban", he said. "The Taliban kill the innocent every day in their suicide attacks and blasts. Afghans ... don't want the Taliban to rule them again."
"The Afghan people no longer want to live under an atrocious regime in which they can't determine their political future," Hakimi said. "Afghans will send a message to the Taliban with their vote that [the Taliban] are out in politics. They will say 'no' to suicide attacks and bombings."
"By participating in the election, voters intend to show that they support democracy and want a democratic system in which they can decide their future," he said. "Their participation in the election shows that they support the current government system."
"We give no value to the threats of the Taliban; we will cast our votes to determine our future," said Ghousuddin, a resident of Farah Province.
"The Taliban can't fight more than 30 million" Afghans, he said. "Afghans really want the election to be held, and they are looking forward to participating in it."
"The Taliban can't stop the election," he said.
"The election is a national process, and I want to take part in this process," said Khan Aqa Bayan, a resident of Badghis Province. "The Taliban take orders from foreigners to threaten voters not to participate in the election, and this isn't of any importance to us."
"We call on all Afghans not to be frightened by the Taliban's threats ... and to participate in the election even if it costs them their lives," he said.