The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

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Pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai will increase as NATO begin to leave his country.

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Why not?

In its time here the United States could have done a lot better for Afghanistan. The Afghan people for the first time in their history welcomed a foreign force. Never in the history of the Afghan people have they welcomed a foreign force. I was a witness to that myself. So were you. We called them liberators. But then they did not regard the homes of Afghan villagers as homes that gave the United States and NATO a welcome. And in the name in the War on Terror, which everybody knew was to be fought elsewhere, too many innocent Afghans lost their lives. Too many were wounded, too many homes were violated. the president of Afghanistan, and as an Afghan citizen, it was my job to protect the Afghan people, it was my job to do all I could to bring safety to Afghan homes, just like the U.S. president's job is to bring security to the American homes. We were not anti-American. We are notanti-American. We are rather pro-American. But I have to protect Afghan homes. The U.S. media understood it as Afghan belligerence. Or opposition to the U.S. It was opposition to a method applied to Afghanistan. And that had to improve. And I am willing to do a lot more in order to bring to Afghan life a safety andsecurity interpretation they deserve.

You mean you are defending Afghanistan in this way?

Like hell.

Do you think that over the past decade the Americans have done more harm than good?

Well, the Americans have done well by providing us the opportunity to educate our children. By providing us the opportunity to bring us better health care, by helping us reach our ambitions world wide for Afghanistan to be once again a member of the world community and in a great way. For doing lots of other good things in Afghanistan, like building roads for us, building a better economy. But the American presence and the NATO presence in Afghanistan did not bring security to the Afghan people. As they deserved it. It did not bring the defeat of terrorism, as we thought it would. It did not fight the war in terrorism in a manner that wefelt was right. It was fought against our own will, against our own advice. But the American presence did bring an overall stability to Afghanistan which is very important.

Were the lives of American, NATO and Afghan soldiers wasted?

The...well I...see...I can't ever say that a life is wasted. could have been done in a matter where there would have been less casualties of our U.S. and NATO allies and less damage and suffering for the Afghan people. But the overall stability in Afghanistan is established. That is a very good thing. That is why the Afghan view is still seeking the U.S. presence, but in another form. The answer to your question has to be explained in a context. Some things were good, some things were not good.

I am sure you have heard reports that U.S. has been using Hizb-i-Islami forces against the Taliban. What is your reaction?

I have only seen the Washington Post story. I am not aware of things like that. But it's can't be unusual. It's not something that would surprise me. Now to judge it is a different issue. I am not trying to judge it here. As something that may have been done by the U.S., it is not impossible. They could have done it. We also have reports that they are supplying the Taliban from time to time. Those reports are there. But to judge it is a different issue. And this time, since I don't have solid information that I know of...the things I have spoken about t in Afghanistan for the past ten years and have done so often are things I know of for a fact, and I don't take government reports as the basis of my knowledge and information. I call the people directly, I speak to them. And they tell me 'yes president' this has happened and this has not. Even in the recent bombardment of civilians in Helmand and Badghis and Logar and Kapisa, I first called the governors. And once I got to know more that I would further, especially in Helmand and Badghis where there were high casualties, I called the district chiefs, and from the district chiefs I went to the families. I telephoned them and spoke to them and got the facts that they had.

You learned that way about the death of the mother by an air attack last week?

A mother and her five children. And in Bagdhis, eight people killed.

You threatened, when that happened, you threatened the U.S. ambassador to bring up such incidents to the UN Security Council.

Well, if they are repeated, sure.

Does it not seem inevitable that in the course of war, that this will continue to happen?

There is no war. I don't think there is a war. There is no war. There is no war in Afghanistan. There is no war in Afghanistan. If this is a campaign against terrorism, then it has to be addressed where it, where it , where it rises. It is not in Afghanistan.

Do you think the U.S. should be fighting in Pakistan then?

I don't say that. I don't think the U.S. should be fighting Pakistan. But I think all of us should work honestly. And with sincerity. Towards a common objective. If terrorism is a threat to all of us, and indeed it is a threat to Pakistan as well, massively a threat to Pakistan. Massively a threat to Pakistan.

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