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World & Nation

Hamid Karzai: ‘Foreigners’ control Afghanistan’s destiny

Hamid Karzai
Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center, attends his farewell ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.
(Rahmat Gul / Associated Press)

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai took parting shots Tuesday at Pakistan and the United States, saying neither has genuinely worked toward peace in his country.

Addressing his ministers and cabinet for what was expected to be a final time before his successor is inaugurated next week, Karzai said he had made repeated overtures of peace to Pakistan but that Islamabad only sought its own benefit in dealings with the Afghans.

“Afghanistan’s peace and stability are in the hands of foreigners. But we will fight them. If not with anything else, with our words,” Karzai said in reference to a commonly held belief among Afghans that Pakistan is supporting the armed opposition in their country.

Karzai used the nation’s recent presidential election as an example, blaming attacks during the campaign on “foreigners,” a reference to Taliban militants who operate from Pakistan.

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In recent years, Afghanistan also has accused Pakistan of cross-border shelling that has seen hundreds of rockets land in eastern Afghanistan. In May, more than 300 rockets fired from Pakistan landed in several areas in a single day.

During his 13-year tenure, Karzai said he made 20 visits to Pakistan in hopes of bringing peace between the neighboring states, but said each time he was met with conditions that impeded Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

Karzai went on to say that peace will only come to Afghanistan “if Pakistan and the United States want.”

At a meeting with journalists in the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador James Cunningham said Karzai will leave behind a “strong legacy” after having taken on “one of the most difficult jobs in the world.”

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However, Cunningham told The times that he felt Karzai’s rhetoric was “ungracious and ungrateful,” particularly in that he did not acknowledge the deaths of U.S. troops during the past 13 years.

In his statement, the outgoing president warned his successor, Ashraf Ghani, and Abdullah Abdullah, who is likely to occupy the newly created post of chief executive, to be careful in their dealings with the United States. Ghani was named the winner of a disputed runoff on Sunday and has signed an agreement to share power with Abdullah, his chief electoral rival.

Rebuilding relations with the U.S. is likely to be one of Ghani’s main priorities after his inauguration next week.

During the campaign cycle, Ghani promised to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington within his first week as president. The pact, stipulating the conditions for any U.S. troops remaining beyond a December foreign troop withdrawal deadline, was left unsigned by Karzai, who said the United States did not do enough to curb civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

The agreement, which states no U.S. soldier can be tried by Afghan courts for a crime they committed in the country, also lays the foundation for continued U.S. support and training of the Afghan army and police. At present, Afghan forces number more than 330,000.

Latifi is a special correspondent.


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