- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

KHOST, Afghanistan (Agence France-Presse) — One of the largest Pashtun tribes in southeast Afghanistan threatened two days ago to torch the homes of voters who fail to cast ballots for incumbent Hamid Karzai in next month’s presidential vote.

“All Terezay tribespeople should vote for Hamid Karzai … if any Terezay people vote for other candidates, the tribe will burn their houses,” the tribe warned in a radio broadcast in the border province of Khost.

A tape of the broadcast obtained by Agence France-Presse urged both male and female members of the tribe to cast ballots in the election and to support Mr. Karzai, a fellow Pashtun.

“All Terezay tribespeople, including males and females, have to vote for Hamid Karzai because he is the only suitable person for the presidential post,” it said.

The Terezays number between 120,000 and 150,000 and are scattered in the mountains of southern and eastern Afghanistan. Pashtuns make up the largest of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups.

Mr. Karzai, the favorite to win the Oct. 9 election, must win support from the same communities the Taliban militants come from.

The English-speaking transitional leader faces 17 rival candidates, among them former Education Minister Yunus Qanooni, an ethnic Tajik who gets wide support in the north.

Taliban-led insurgents, from the regime that was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led military after sheltering al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, have threatened to disrupt voting and attack all 18 candidates.

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