Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai Says Nato Caused 'Great Suffering'
President Hamid Karzai has criticised Nato for failing to bring
stability to Afghanistan in over a decade there.
By Yalda Hakim
Clearing House - "BBC"
- "On the
security front the entire Nato exercise was one that caused
Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no
gains because the country is not secure," he said.
He said Nato had incorrectly focused the fight on Afghan
villages rather than Taliban safe havens in Pakistan.
Mr Karzai has just six months remaining in office until a
successor is elected.
"I am not happy to say that there is partial security. That's
not what we are seeking. What we wanted was absolute security
and a clear-cut war against terrorism," Mr Karzai said of the
Speaking in one of his last major interviews before stepping
down, he told BBC Newsnight that his priority now is to bring
peace and security to Afghanistan, including a power-sharing
deal with the Taliban.
He said that his government was actively engaged in talks with
the hardline Islamic group with this aim in mind:
"They are Afghans. Where the Afghan president, the Afghan
government can appoint the Taliban to a government job they are
welcome," he said. "But where it's the Afghan people appointing
people through elections to state organs then the Taliban should
come and participate in elections."
He dismissed concerns that bringing the Taliban back into
government would sacrifice the tenuous gains on the status of
women made in Afghanistan.
"The return of the Taliban will not undermine progress. This
country needs to have peace. I am willing to stand for anything
that will bring peace to Afghanistan and through that to promote
the cause of the Afghan women better," he said.
"I have no doubt that there will be more Afghan young girls and
women studying and getting higher education and better job
opportunities. There is no doubt about that; even if the Taliban
come that will not end, that will not slow down," he added.
Before the elections for Mr Karzai's successor the United States
is keen to finalise a bilateral security agreement which will
also formalise US-Afghan relations following the 2014 Nato troop
The US wants this signed by Mr Karzai, to avoid it becoming an
election issue. However, the Afghan leader told Newsnight he was
in no hurry to sign a pact:
"If the agreement doesn't suit us then of course they can leave.
The agreement has to suit Afghanistan's interests and purposes.
If it doesn't suit us and if it doesn't suit them then naturally
we will go separate ways."
The US is becoming more and more pessimistic about the issue and
has said it will consider a zero troops option.
Mr Karzai has had troubled relations with his Western backers in
recent years for openly criticising Nato, whom he has accused of
having no respect for Afghan sovereignty.
In 2009, US President Barack Obama described Mr Karzai as an
unreliable and ineffective partner. However, speaking to
Newsnight Mr Karzai dismissed the claim saying he was
characterised in this manner "because where they want us to go
along, we don't go along. They want us to keep silent when
civilians are killed. We will not, we cannot".
He said that in the years immediately following the US-led
invasion of Afghanistan he had had good relations with the-then
President George W Bush as in "those beginning years there was
not much difference of opinion between us".
"The worsening of relations began in 2005 where we saw the first
incidents of civilian casualties, where we saw that the war on
terror was not conducted where it should have been."
Mr Karzai said the war should have been conducted "in the
sanctuaries, in the training grounds beyond Afghanistan, rather
than that which the US and Nato forces were conducting
operations in Afghan villages, causing harm to Afghan people."
There has also been much criticism of the Afghan government's
failure to deal with corruption, which along with lack of
progress on significantly improving women's rights, saw Norway
cutting some its aid to the country last week.
"Our government is weak and ineffective in comparison to other
governments, we've just begun," Mr Karzai said. "But the big
corruption, the hundreds of millions of dollars of corruption,
it was not Afghan. Now everybody knows that. It was foreign.
"The contracts, the subcontracts, the blind contracts given to
people, money thrown around to buy loyalties, money thrown
around to buy submissiveness of Afghan government officials, to
policies and designs that the Afghans would not agree to. That
was the major part of corruption," he said.
Francis Boyle: The Illegality and Evil of
the War on Afganistan:
I want to start out with my basic thesis
that the Bush administration's war against Afghanistan cannot be
justified on the facts or the law. It is clearly illegal. It
constitutes armed aggression. It is creating a humanitarian
catastrophe for the people of Afghanistan.
What's your response?
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