There is a mood of optimism spreading among Afghan officials ahead of Thursday’s general election.Authorities say far fewer voting stations will be closed because of security fears than had been expected. It follows Taliban threats to cut off the indelible ink stained hands of anyone who takes part and warnings that polling booths will be targeted. With violence at its worst levels since the Taliban were toppled and insurgents vowing to disrupt the election, many fear poor security will have a serious impact on the ballot’s outcome. Lack of security has raised fears of a poor voter turnout in many areas but President Hamid Karzai used his latest debate to give assurances over security. Poor turnout raises the risk that Karzai might not be able to pass the 50 percent mark he needs to win the election in the first round, leading to a second round run-off. That would most likely be against his main rival and former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah.