KABUL: Former President Hamid Karzai is in favour of a political confrontation with the Taliban. He holds a strong belief that the Afghan people will rise against the militant movement if they trample basic rights of Afghan people including right to education. He said America’s maltreating Afghan people fuelled anti-US sentiments which then gave rise to the resurgence of the Taliban, for which he blames Pakistani establishment.
Russia Today has spoken with Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Kumar about a range of hot-button issues including the Taliban, Turkey’s future role in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s support for extremism, overarching role of China, Russia and India in maintaining regional stability, presented below:
Mr. President, it is great to talk to you, great to see you in Moscow again. Let me start with the question about American pullout, because over the last couple of years, you weren’t shy in saying that the Americans have outstayed their welcome. But there was a welcome in the beginning including a welcome from you, personally. Do you think, there was ever a good time to leave, given how they came into your country?
President Karzai: Well, they came in the aftermath of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, which got the sympathies of the whole world with them; the Afghan people too were waiting for such a moment of liberation.
Liberation from what?
President Karzai: Liberation from extremism, from violence, from terrorism, from a creeping invasion from a neighboring country and from suffering for such a longtime. We had pleaded with America before that and with Russia for that matter as well, and with Europe to come and help Afghanistan free itself. Then, the international community led by the United States and approved by the United Nations Security Council and even those countries which didn’t see eye to eye with the United States on many issues around the world, like Russia, like China, like Iran. They all welcomed and supported that decision of the United States and its allies to come to Afghanistan.
And, what did they change. When did you feel it?
President Karzai: And this led to an immediate success within a month and half, because the Afghan people wanted that success to happen and we begun to look forward with tremendous hopes towards a better future, and it did work. Everybody helped; the United States helped, Russia helped, the Muslim world helped; many other countries around the world helped. We launched on educating our people, boys and girls; we began to draft a Constitution that worked very well and got the approval of the Afghan people, a democratic constitution, a constitution with rights, a constitution with opportunities, a constitution where it was mandated that women should be at least 27 percent of the members of the Afghan parliament, and it worked. The most important thing, Afghanistan became the home for all Afghans; former communists, the Mujahideen, the clergy, leftists, rightists, women, tribal chiefs.
It was a dream come true but for a very short period of time, why was it so short?
President Karzai: That dream, as far as the Afghan people were concerned, continued very well in terms of economic progress, in terms of education, in terms of massive social change towards betterment that went all right, in terms of specially, let’s not forget, building of the Afghan state, rebuilding of the Afghan state; it worked very well, our flag began to fly all over the world. And embassies began to return to Afghanistan, life began to look very different. But, where it failed was in the conduct of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the way they conducted the so-called war on terrorism. They told us that the sanctuaries were outside of Afghanistan but then they began to bomb Afghan villages and homes and get our people hurt and killed and homes destroyed. That is where the trend towards the negative began, and that is where my differences with the United States began and that’s where in the year 2006, this difference with the United States became public.
Now, I am sure you would agree with me, no complicated international problem has a simple solution. In fact there is never a choice a good or even mediocre options – it is usually a choice between bad and worst. How do you see the best case and worst case scenario for Afghanistan in a year or two from now?
President Karzai: I don’t have a worst case scenario for Afghanistan. I have the best case scenario for Afghanistan. I am seeing some trends towards that. Yes, we are at this moment in a very difficult spot. There is immense violence in Afghanistan; there is immense anger in our country. But, I also see the Afghans waking up to the new reality, and those who want to opt to stay in Afghanistan will make it better and the region, specially Russia, China, Iran and hopefully also very important, Pakistan which realizes and recognizes the dangers of continued instability in Afghanistan. This is a great opportune moment for Afghanistan to take a turn towards betterment and I am sure it will, I have noticed it, and of course I must not forget India, another great neighbor of Afghanistan, that has to recognize this.