His Excellency The
Karzai at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 8, 2009
7 December 2004
Acting: 22 December 2001 to 7 December 2004
Karim Khalili (Second)
|Preceded by||Burhanuddin Rabbani|
|Born||24 December 1957
Karz, Kandahar province, Afghanistan
|Spouse(s)||Zeenat Quraishi Karzai|
Hamid Karzai (Pashto: حامد کرزی - Ḥāmid Karzay; born 24 December 1957) is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on December 7, 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban government in late 2001. During the International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, on December 5, 2001, Karzai was selected by prominent Afghan political figures to serve a six month term as Chairman of the Transitional Administration. He was then chosen for a two years term as the Interim President during the 2002 Loya Jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan. After the 2004 presidential election, Karzai won and became President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He then won the 2009 presidential election after his opponent withdrew from the run-off race.
Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai tribe, was born in the village of Karz, which is located on the edge of Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan. His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, had served in the 1919 Afghanistan’s war of independence and as the Deputy Speaker of the Senate. Karzai's family were strong supporters of the former Afghan King, Zahir Shah. His uncle, Habibullah Karzai, served as representative of Afghanistan at the United Nations and is said to have accompanied Zahir Shah in the course of the King's state visit to the United States for a special meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, served as the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament during the 1960s. Hamid Karzai attended Mahmood Hotaki Elementary School in Kandahar and Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan School in Kabul. He graduated from Habibia High School in 1976.
From 1979 to 1983, Karzai took a postgraduate course in political science at Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. After obtaining his Master’s degree in India he returned to work as a fund-raiser by supporting anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet intervention for the rest of the 1980s. When Najibullah's Soviet-backed government fell in 1992, Karzai served as Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Karzai has six brothers, including Mahmoud Karzai, Quayum Karzai, Ahmed Wali Karzai, and one sister Fauzia Karzai. He is well versed in several languages, including his mother-tongue Pashto, as well as Persian (Dari), Urdu/Hindi, English and French. He is often seen wearing a Karakul hat, something that has been worn by many Afghan kings in the past.
In initial biographical news reporting, there was confusion regarding his clan lineage; it was written that his paternal lineage derived from the Sadozai clan. This confusion might have arisen from sources stating he was chosen as the head, or Khan of the Popalzai. Traditionally, the Popalzai tribe has been led by members of the Sadozais. The first King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Durrani, was the leader of the Sadozais, and the Sadozai lineage continued to rule Afghanistan until 1826 when the Barakzais ascended to the throne.
Karzai is believed to be from the Shamizai subtribe of the Popalzais. His grandfather, Khair Muhammad Karzai, was head of the Popalzai tribe from Kandahar who relocated to Kabul and ran the business of a guest house. This allowed Karzai's father Abdul Ahad, to gain a foothold in the royal family, and subsequently, the parliament. These actions and upwards movement within the Popalzai tribal system, led to the Karzai family furnishing a viable Shamizai clan alternative to Sadozai leadership in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion when the Sadozai clan failed to provide a tribal leader.
Karzai was involved in helping to provide financial and military support for the Mujahideen during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Mujahideen were secretly supplied and funded by the United States, and Karzai was a contact for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time.
While Karzai's brothers emigrated to the United States, Hamid Karzai remained in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation. He accompanied the first Mujahideen leaders into Kabul in 1992 following the Soviet withdrawal.
When the Taliban emerged in the mid 1990s, Karzai, like many other Afghans, supported them, because he saw them as a force that could finally end the violence and corruption in his country. However, he later broke with them and refused to serve as their ambassador to the United Nations, telling friends he felt the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was wrongly using them. Karzai recently stated that "there were many wonderful people in the Taliban."[19 ]
Karzai lived in exile in Quetta, Pakistan, where he worked to reinstate the former Afghan king, Zahir Shah. On the morning of July 14, 1999, Karzai's father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was gunned down as he was coming home from a mosque in the city of Quetta. Reports suggest that the Taliban carried out the assassination. Hamid Karzai worked closely with Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001 to help gather support for the anti-Taliban movement. In an interview in February 2005, Karzai criticised the role the United States played in empowering the Taliban to take control in Afghanistan. He claimed that he spent many years before the September 11, 2001, attacks in USA warning embassies about the threat, but that the West failed to respond, describing it as an act of "neglect, selfishness and short-sightedness."
As the U.S. military was preparing for a confrontation with the Taliban in September 2001, Karzai began urging NATO nations to purge his country of Al-Qaeda. "These Arabs, together with their foreign supporters and the Taliban, destroyed miles and miles of homes and orchards and vineyards," he told BBC, "They have killed Afghans. They have trained their guns on Afghan lives... We want them out."
After the October 7, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom, Mujahideen loyal to the Northern Alliance and other groups worked with the US military to overthrow the Taliban and muster support for a new government in Afghanistan. Karzai and his group were in Quetta, Pakistan, where they began their covert operation. At this stage he warned his fighters by stating:
"We might be captured the moment we enter Afghanistan and be killed. We have 60 percent chance of death and 40 percent chance to live and survive. Winning was no consideration. We could not even think of that. We got on two motorbikes. We drove into Afghanistan."
In October 2001, Hamid Karzai and his group of fighters survived a US friendly fire missile attack in southern Afghanistan. The group suffered injuries and was treated in the United States; Karzai received injuries to his facial nerves as can sometimes be noticed during his speeches. On November 4, 2001, American forces flew Karzai out of Afghanistan for protection.
In December 2001, political leaders gathered in Germany to agree on new leadership structures. Under the December 5 Bonn Agreement they formed an interim Transitional Administration and named Karzai Chairman of a 29-member governing committee. He was sworn in as leader on December 22. The Loya Jirga of June 13, 2002, appointed Karzai Interim holder of the new position as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration . Former members of the Northern Alliance remained extremely influential, most notably Vice President Mohammed Fahim, who also served as the Defense Minister.
Karzai re-enacted the original coronation of Ahmad Shah Durrani at the shrine of Sher-i-Surkh outside of Kandahar where he had leaders of various Afghan tribes, including a descendent of the religious leader that originally chose Ahmad Shah Durrani as key players in this event. Further evidence that Karzai views himself fulfilling a Durrani monarch's role arise from statements furnished by close allies within his government. His younger brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, has made statements to a similar effect.
After Karzai was installed into power, his actual authority outside the capital city of Kabul was said to be so limited that he was often derided as the "Mayor of Kabul". The situation was particularly delicate since Karzai and his administration have not been equipped either financially or politically to influence reforms outside of the region around the capital city of Kabul. Other areas, particularly the more remote ones, are currently and have historically been under the influence of various local leaders. Karzai has been, to varying degrees of success, attempting to negotiate and form amicable alliances with them for the benefit of Afghanistan as a whole, instead of aggressively fighting them and risking an uprising.
In 2004 he rejected a US proposal to end poppy production in Afghanistan through aerial spraying of chemical herbicides, fearing that it would harm the economic situation of his countrymen. Moreover, Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai – who partially helped finance Karzai's presidential campaign – was rumored to be involved in narcotic deals. Karzai said that he has sought in writing a number of times, but failed to obtain, U.S. proof of allegations that Ahmed Wali is involved in illegal drugs.
When Karzai was a candidate in the October 9, 2004, presidential election, he won 21 of the 34 provinces, defeating his 22 opponents and becoming the first democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.
Although his campaigning was limited due to fears of violence, elections passed without significant incident. Following investigation by the UN of alleged voting irregularities, the national election commission on November 3 declared Karzai winner, without runoff, with 55.4% of the vote. This represented 4.3 million of the total 8.1 million votes cast. The election took place safely in spite of a surge of insurgent activity.
Karzai was officially sworn in as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on December 7, 2004, at a formal ceremony in Kabul. Many interpreted the ceremony as a symbolically important "new start" for the war-torn nation. Notable guests at the inauguration included the country's former King, Zahir Shah, three former US presidents, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
|History of Afghanistan|
This article is part of a series
|Achaemenids (550-330 BC)|
|Seleucids (330-150 BC)|
|Greco-Bactrians (256-125 BC)|
|Sakas (145 BC - )|
|Kushans (30 CE - 248 CE)|
|Indo-Sassanid (248 - 410)|
|Kabul Shahi (565-670)|
|Hotaki dynasty (1709-1738)|
|Durrani Empire (1747-1823)|
|Emirate of Afghanistan|
|Kingdom of Afghanistan|
|Republic of Afghanistan|
|Democratic Republic of Afghanistan|
|Afghanistan since 1992|
|Afghan Civil War|
After winning a democratic mandate in the 2004 election and removing many of the former Northern Alliance warlords from his cabinet, it was thought that Karzai would pursue a more aggressively reformist path in 2005. However, Karzai has proved to be more cautious than was expected.
Ever since Karzai's new administration took over in 2004, the economy of Afghanistan has been growing rapidly for the first time in many years. Government revenue is increasing every year, although it is still heavily dependent on foreign aid.
On September 20, 2006, Karzai told the United Nations General Assembly that Afghanistan has become the "worst victim" of terrorism. Karzai said terrorism is "rebounding" in his country, with militants infiltrating the borders to wage attacks on civilians. He stated, "This does not have its seeds alone in Afghanistan. Military action in the country will, therefore, not deliver the shared goal of eliminating terrorism." He demanded assistance from the international community to destroy terrorist sanctuaries inside and outside Afghanistan. "You have to look beyond Afghanistan to the sources of terrorism," he told the UN General Assembly, and "destroy terrorist sanctuaries beyond" the country, dismantle the elaborate networks in the region that recruit, indoctrinate, train, finance, arm, and deploy terrorists. These activities are also robbing thousands of Afghan children of their right to education, and prevent health workers from doing their jobs in Afghanistan. In addition he promised to eliminate opium-poppy cultivation in the country, which helps fuel the ongoing insurgency. He has repeatedly demanded that NATO and U.S.-led coalition forces take more care when conducting military operations in residential areas to avoid civilian casualties which undermine his government's already weak standing in parts of the country.
During the Karzai administration, public discontent grew about corruption and the civilian casualties in the fight against the Taliban insurgency. In May 2006, riots broke out in Kabul, when after a fatal traffic accident in the town involving a US military convoy security forces opened fire on protesters. During the rush, in Kabul's northern outskirts a truck went out of control and crashed into a dozen vehicles, killing at least one person and injuring six. Angry Afghans then threw stones, smashing windows in the convoy vehicles. Afghan police also opened fire, when they came to the assistance of the US troops. Rioters set two police cars alight. At least seven civilians were killed during the protest and 40 wounded. Thousands of protesters marched through the capital shouting slogans against Karzai and the US. By early afternoon, up to 2,000 protesters had gathered in central Kabul, some marching on parliament and some on the presidential palace. Several hundred more congregated at an intersection near the US embassy. A few dozen people forced their way past a police cordon guarding the road to the US embassy and threw stones at vehicles carrying foreigners into the compound, prompting the occupants to fire into the air before turning back. The unrest left at least seven people dead and 40 injured .
In a video broadcast on September 24, 2006, Karzai stated that if the money wasted on the Iraq War was actually spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, his country would "be in heaven in less than one year". In May 2007, after as many as 51 Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing, Karzai asserted that his government "can no longer accept" casualties caused by the US and NATO operations.[34 ]
Over the years Hamid Karzai has become a well recognized figure. He has received a number of awards and honorary degrees from famous government and educational institutions around the world. The following are some of his awards and honoraria.
In a 2008 interview, Karzai expressed his feelings towards the United States by stating: "If I am called a puppet because we are grateful to America, then let that be my nickname." Although many in United States charge that Iran is meddling in Afghanistan's affairs, Karzai believes that Iran is only a friend of Afghanistan despite Iranian-made arms being found in his country. In 2007 Karzai contradicted US assessments on Iran's role in Afghanistan by saying that Iran so far has been a helper in the reconstruction process. On August 5, 2007, Karzai was invited to Camp David in Maryland, USA, for a special meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. In October 2007 Karzai again rejected Western accusations against Iran, stating, "We have resisted the negative propaganda launched by foreign states against the Islamic Republic and we stress that aliens' propaganda should not leave a negative impact on the consolidated ties between the two great nations of Iran and Afghanistan." Karzai added, "The two Iranian and Afghan nations are close to each other due to their bonds and commonalities, they belong to the same house and they will live alongside each other for good." However, just a year prior Karzai warned that "Iran and Pakistan and others are not fooling anyone."
If they don’t stop, the consequences will be … that the region will suffer with us equally. In the past we have suffered alone; this time everybody will suffer with us.… Any effort to divide Afghanistan ethnically or weaken it will create the same thing in the neighboring countries. All the countries in the neighborhood have the same ethnic groups that we have, so they should know that it is a different ball game this time.—Hamid Karzai , February 17, 2006
In December 2007 Karzai and his delegates travelled to Islamabad, Pakistan, for a usual meeting with Pervez Musharraf on trade ties and intelligence sharing between the two Islamic states. Karzai also met and had a 45-minute talk with Benazir Bhutto on the morning of December 27, hours before her trip to Liaquat National Bagh where she was assassinated after her speech. After Mrs. Bhutto's death Karzai labelled her as a brave woman who had a clear vision "for her own country, for Afghanistan and for the region – a vision of democracy and prosperity and peace." In September 2008 Karzai was invited on a special visit to witness the sworn in ceremony of Asif Ali Zardari, who became the new President of Pakistan. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have improved since Zardari took office. The two nations often make contacts with one another concerning the war on terrorism. Pakistan even allowed NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan to launch attacks on illegal militant groups in Pakistan. This was something strongly opposed by the previous government of Pakistan.
Starting in 2009, the US and a number of western nations attempted to distance themselves from Karzai. International criticism has centered around the government of Karzai for failing to secure the country from Taliban attacks, systemic governmental corruption, and most recently, widespread claims of electoral fraud in the 2009 Afghan presidential election. Karzai staunchly defended the election balloting, stating that some statements criticizing the balloting and vote count were "totally fabricated." He told the media that "There were instances of fraud, no doubt... There were irregularities... But the election as a whole was good and free and democratic." He further went on to say that "Afghanistan has its separate problems and we have to handle them as Afghanistan finds it feasible... This country was completely destroyed... Today, we are talking about fighting corruption in Afghanistan, improved legal standards... You see the glass half empty or half full. I see it as half full. Others see it as half empty."
On the eve of the August 20 presidential election, Karzai seemed at once deeply unpopular but also likely to win the majority of the votes. He was blamed by many for the failures that plagued the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the toppling of the Taliban government end 2001, from the widespread corruption and the resurgence of the (neo-)Taliban to the explosion of the poppy trade. His unpopularity and the likelihood of his victory foremd an atmosphere with a kind of national demoralization, which could discourage many Afghans from voting and dash hopes for substantial progress after the election .
In this second presidential election, Karzai was announced to have received over 50% of the votes. The election was tainted by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud. 
Two months later Karzai accepted calls for a second round run-off vote, which was scheduled for November 7, 2009.   On November 2, 2009, Karzai's run-off opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the race and election officials announced the cancellation of the run-off race. Karzai, the only remaining contender, was declared the winner a short time later. 
Karzai presented his list of 24 cabinet nominees to the Afghan parliament on December 19, 2009; however, on January 2, 2010, the parliament rejected 17 of the nominees. According to the parliament, most of the nominees were rejected due to having been picked for reasons other than their competency. A member of parliament said that they had been picked largely based on "ethnicity or bribery or money."
Since late 2001 Karzai has been trying desperately to bring peace in his country, even going as far as pardoning all militants that would lay down weapons and join the nation's rebuilding process. However, all of his offers have been rejected by the Taliban and other militant groups. In April 2007, Karzai acknowledged that he spoke to militants about trying to bring peace in Afghanistan. He noted that the Afghan militants are always welcome in the country, although foreign insurgents are not. In September 2007, Karzai again offered talks with militant fighters after a security scare forced him to end a commemoration speech. Karzai left the event and was taken back to his palace, where he was due to meet visiting Latvian President Valdis Zatlers. After the meeting the pair held a joint news conference, at which Karzai called for talks with his Taliban foes. "We don't have any formal negotiations with the Taliban. They don't have an address. Who do we talk to?" Karzai told reporters. He further stated: "If I can have a place where to send somebody to talk to, an authority that publicly says it is the Taliban authority, I will do it."
There's been much debate over Karzai's alleged consultant work with Unocal (Union Oil Company of California since acquired by Chevron in 2005). In 2002 when Karzai became the subject of heavy media coverage as one of the front runners to lead Afghanistan, it was reported that he was a former consultant for them. Spokesmen for both Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium. The original claim that Karzai worked for Unocal originates from a December 6, 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde, Barry Lane UNOCAL's manager for public relations states that, "He was never a consultant, never an employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our records." Lane however did say that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, was a Unocal consultant in the mid-1990s.
|President of Afghanistan
"Chairman" until June 13, 2002
Acting President, 2002 - 2004
Hamid Karzai (born 24 December 1957) is the current and first democratically elected President of Afghanistan (since December 7, 2004). Since December 2001, Hamid Karzai had been Chairman of the Transitional Administration and been Interim President from 2002.