by Abdul Haleem
KABUL, June 12 (Xinhua) -- After years of internecine fighting, political instability and civil strife, the Afghans are going to the polling centers on Saturday to elect their new president through the ballots instead of bullets in the first-ever political power transition in their war-ravaged country.
Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, both seasoned Afghan politicians who have secured the first and second position in the April 5 presidential elections from among eight presidential candidates, are both hopeful that they would prevail in the runoff on June 14 and succeed outgoing President Hamid Karzai.
Afghans have experienced successive regimes and rulers since April 27, 1978, some of them seizing power through bloody coup d' etat or monopolizing political power through dubious and illegal means. But none of them had enjoyed the people's popular support to ensure viable peace across the country.
Around 7 million out of 12 million Afghans eligible to vote cast their ballots in the first round of the presidential polls and the same number is expected to exercise their right of suffrage in the second round of balloting.
In the post-Taliban Afghanistan, the presidential hopefuls crisscrossed the country and held open public gatherings, a practice unheard of 13 years ago during the iron-clad rule of the Taliban in the country.
During its six-year reign, which collapsed in late 2001, the Taliban had outlawed all political, social and cultural activities.
The militants, who has since conducted guerrilla war against the government after their downfall from power, had either brutally killed or imprisoned those who tried to oppose their brutal rule which was based on fundamentalist Islamic practices.
After the three-week campaign for the runoff, the long and arduous campaign came to an end on Wednesday midnight.
On Saturday the Afghans are going to elect their president on their own, free from fear of the warlords, free from fear of military coup d'etat and free from fear of the return of factional fighting.
The Taliban militants who failed to derail the April 5 presidential elections have once again vowed to disrupt the upcoming presidential runoff, which it described in an online post on Wednesday as part of an "American conspiracy to continue its occupation of Afghanistan."
But many Afghans are now sick and tired of the bullying tactics of the Taliban. They are no longer afraid of the militants who have done nothing to alleviate their misery or contribute to peace and prosperity of their country. The insurgents have brought nothing but more hardships and violence to their beloved country.
Enough is enough. Let the ballots, not the guns, decide on who should lead Afghanistan in the coming years.