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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By the Afghan security forces, or foreign forces?

By both the foreigners and the Afghans. It's happening, unfortunately.

And are you able to prosecute them?

Oh yes, we can. We absolutely prosecute them and bring them to justice, but this is an uphill struggle. It's a massive thing for us, Massive and important and difficult as well. Some thing I am aware of, and something I have been working on from the very first day with success but not with satisfaction. With success but not with satisfaction.

The Afghan constitution prevents you from running for a third term.


Do you feel that you will have met your goals by the time you step down in 2014?

No. There is plenty that I would have wished I could have done that I have not been able to do.

Do you regret not being able to run again?

No, not at all. No, I think two terms is a very long time. You need fresh energy, you need fresh thinking, someone with more...untested ideas should come forward and build on what we could not improve upon. The western press is full of stories, though, about my trying to seek a third term.

But the constitution won't allow it.

But they say the President will try this or that, to stay on. It's fictional.

Ok, well, would you? Would you try to stay in power or extend your term?

No, no.

Not under any circumstances, not even if the people asked you to stay on past the end of your term? You will not stay on past 2014?

No. Not at all. Because beyond that I will be illegitimate. And beyond that if I tried to do anything it will not help Afghanistan, it will hurt it forever. I don't want to be the president of Afghanistan one day beyond my term.

The term that ends in 2014.

Exactly, any longer than that will be illegitimate.

Now the strategic document has an interesting clause that says the elections must be free of foreign and government interference. What are you concerned about?

Yes. I had to put this in with a lot of persuasion. I had to ask the U.S. government to put in that line about external interference, because the last elections were intervened, with very...they were actually rigged by foreign embassies and governments.

Not very effectively it seems.

Well, they tried, but they did it badly. But the did damage our elections. They did damage the reputation of our elections. They did damage the legitimacy of the process at that time. That makes me think as to what their intention is in this country. That is why we are so careful now. That is why we are so suspicious, that is why we are turning every stone to find out if there is something else in the corner waiting for us, of that nature. That was the terminal mistake on the part of all of those Western governments, they did not respect democracy, they did not respect the vote of the Afghan people and the scope of democracy issomething that people see with suspicion because of that election. And it was with that in mind that I insisted that the question of interference in the next elections should also be in the strategic partnership document.

Then do you think that elections can be held while foreign forces are still in the country? With out interference.

They can be held, yes. That might provide grounds for interference, but that is why I put in the clause there that it should be avoided, and wewill make sure that it is avoided.

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