| Saturday, February 05, 2005
| 10 QUESTIONS TO PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI OF AFGHANISTAN
|EIGHT MILLION AFGHAN MEN
and women braved Taliban threats and bad weather
to cast their ballots during Afghanistan's first
free presidential election last fall. A solid
55.4 percent voted for Hamid Karzai. Last week
Karzai was inaugurated in the company of top U.S.
officials, including Vice President Dick Chenney
and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Will Karzan
now be able to impose his will on a country plagued
by warlords and militants, where the biggest money
earner is opium? In an exclusive interview at the
presidential palace in Kabul, the 46-year old Karzai
spoke with NEWSWEEK's Ron Moreau and Sami Tousafzai
about his plans for the newxt five years.
Here are some of the excerpts.
Will your (Karzai) priority be to dramatically
Today I met an elderly village man who had
tears in his eyes. He pleased: "Mr. President,
I want a clean government". That was exactly what
the Afghan people vote for. That's what I'm going
to deliver. This means security; this means
reconstrcution and an honest, accountable,
But how can you suddenly bring
about good government, especially
in the countryside where the Taliban
and warlords are present?
There's no Taliban in the countryside. Forget about
that. The countryside is even more ready for good
government than the urban centers. For that we need
a capable administration that will be able to deliver
services, including justice, to the people.
Will your new government feature a dramatically
new look to accomplish these tasks?
Mostly a new look. It will reflect Afghanistan
and the desires of Afghans to combat corruption.
Warlords and terrorism. There will be (an ethnic)
balance of very capable people.
Can the Taliban be defeated militarily?
The Taliban are not there. Otherwise how could we have
had election? The elections succeeded thanks to the force
of the people. The Taliban can only succeed if they are
accepted by or have a presence among the people.
The Afghan people proved that this country is inherently
Will this election lead to defections from
Mullah Mohammed Omar's force?
The Taliban have been talking to us for a long time.
Those who are not part of Al Qaeda, who are not linked
to terrorism, who have not committed crimes against
our people, and theose who have a desire to come back
and be a part of this country again, are welcom. Thousands
of them, are just ordinary peole , like the rest of the
combatant forces in Afghanistan. But there are about
50 to 100 people, not more than that, who have visible
records of criminal activity, who are vissibly of
Al Qaeda, who are visibly part of terrorism. We can not
accept them. We will fight them.
Is there an official amnesty policy to welcome
back these so called good Taliban?
The Taliban are welcome to join us. It's their country, too.
Would hard line elements in your new government
be open to dealing with the Taliban?
Yes, of course. Everyone in the government is open to it.
We have discussed it already. Everyone wants them to come back.
Why don't you organize your won party?
Many people have asked me to, but I'm not the kind of person.
Now, the country needs national political parties. I would
back that. But I dont't have the skills to organize a
political party. I'll simply continue working for a broad
Is the international community sufficiently
engaged in Afghanistan?
Even during the operations in Iraq, the U.S. in
particular stayed very much committed and increased
its help to Afghanistan. We would not have achieved
what we have without its generous support. If you
recognize that this country has the human potential
to absorb more help to do better if given more,
we would be very grateful.
Will your new adminstration be capable of reining
in and disarming the warlords, whom many Afghans
think are a greater threat to security than the
We will get it done. There has to be significant
progress. Afghanistan has no option but to fight
private military forces. Afghanistan has no option
but to fight drugs. Without a major fight on these
three fronts Afghanistan will not see permanent stability.
The moment the international community leaves us we
will fall back into disaster. We are not going to allow that.
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:14 AM