The election is being closely watched in the US where President Obama has made stablilising Afghanistan his top foreign policy priority.
In an address to veterans he said: “The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight, and we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget, this is not a war of choice, this is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaida would plot to kill more Americans.” The Taliban, ousted by the US-led forces after 9/11 – have vowed to attack polling stations and mutilate voters. NATO and Afghan forces have mounted a massive security operation but it appears not have diminished the threat. In an interview one warlord warned the war would continue as long as foreign troops remain on Afghan soil. Against this background President Hamid Karzai is favourite to top the poll, but he may face a run-off election.