JALALABAD, Afghanistan: The Taliban have launched a violent campaign to disrupt this weekend’s presidential election in Afghanistan, but in a restive eastern corner they are paying villagers to surrender their voting cards.
Residents in Nangarhar province said local Taliban have been offering voters $5 to opt out of the election.
“At first we thought the Taliban were trying to trick us and wanted to find out who had voter cards, but later we found out that they were honest and paid money,” said Ahmad Shah, a youth in a village just outside the city of Jalalabad.
The Taliban did not respond to a request for comment. Saturday’s election will bring the first democratic transfer of power in war-torn Afghanistan and an end to the rule of
President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the ouster of a Taliban regime in late 2001. The Taliban have branded the election a Western-backed sham.