KABUL: Polling is underway in Afghanistan to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai on Saturday amid tight security.
The polling which began at 7.00 in the morning will continue without any break till 4:30 pm.
The incumbent President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled the country since the Taliban’s overthrow in 2001, is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office.
For presidential elections, eight candidates are in the run which included among others former foreign ministers Abdullah Abdullah and Zalmay Rassoul and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
A candidate must secure more than 50 percent of valid ballots to win. However, if no presidential candidate receives 50 percent of the votes, the two top candidates must face off in a run-off election in late May.
In order to maintain law and order during the elections, 352,000 security personnel have been deployed as the Afghan Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the polls, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the run-up to election day.
The president Karzai after casting his vote in a school in Kabul urged people to go to the polling stations despite unfavorable weather conditions and terror threats.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has deployed additional troops on its western border to reinforce security arrangements for conduct of peaceful elections in Afghanistan.
A spokesman of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said host of measures have been taken to beef up security in coordination with Afghan security forces.
The ISPR spokesman said that strict checking measures have been taken on routes from mainland leading towards border areas. All crossing points will remain closed till conclusion of the polling.
In addition, he said that communication at Border Coordination Centres on both sides has also been enhanced and a hotline contact has been established between the two Military Operations directorates. Likewise, additionally Aerial surveillance will also be carried out to check any untoward cross border movement, he added.