President Karzai speaks candidly to the Russian media
in this exclusive interview. He states that Afghanistan is a united country.
President Karzai believes that after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, neglect by the western world brought about the growth of terror in the country. He states that this led in turn to 9/11 and also to the terror attacks in Russia.
President Karzai confirms that international forces, in particular U.S. forces, will be present in the country until at least 2024, after the official troop withdrawal in 2014. He states that the forces will be present in Afghanistan based on a "security agreement to be signed within a year". When asked if Blackwater mercenaries will be involved in the country, he stressed that there will be no mercenaries or private security firms involved and that "an agreement on that has already been made with the U.S”.
In place of private security companies, President Karzai says that the Afghan government has established “a Public Security division, a branch within the Ministry of Interior, that will look after projects, diplomatic missions, and different interests, other than diplomatic and commercial, for the international community in Afghanistan,” which will work together with the Afghan police force.
When asked about the use of drones on Afghan territory, President Karzai dismissed this, stating that this is a “Pakistani issue.” He states that drones are being used from and over Pakistani territory.
President Karzai was asked to compare the presence of both the Soviets and the U.S. in Afghanistan. He replied that the Soviets brought the country military capacity. He said that they also brought the best developmental projects and also education for the Afghan people.
He states that the presence of the U.S. in Afghanistan has enabled millions of refugees to return to the country, adding that the economic development of the country has been much improved during the U.S. presence.
When asked about the Taliban, President Karzai insisted that the majority of Afghan Taliban fighters are not terrorists. He said that they are “people who’ve been driven out of their homes, out of their country by circumstances, and they must be brought back to settle in their country.”
However he stressed that it is important do distinguish between the Pakistani and Afghan branches of the Taliban. He further stressed that all Afghans are patriots and that no division of the multi-ethnic country is possible. “Afghanistan is the most united country in the region”, he added.
Speaking of the future, Karzai stated that he expects Afghanistan to be at the center of business activities in the region.
While the withdrawal of international forces from the country in 2014 will no doubt have an economic impact, he says that “the overall effect will be good on the Afghan economy.” He said that there are good prospects of increased income in the country from the extraction of mineral resources.
One important question was asked during the interview, relating to the recent disturbing actions of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
An interviewer asked: "Mr. President, you talk about the unity in your country and the unity of different kinds of people. Be that as it may, I’m not an expert on domestic affairs of Afghanistan, but I would surely propose to you that the desecration of Qurans, the use of body parts of deceased for trophies as American soldiers have taken pictures of them, put them on the Internet – it would seem to me that this diverse country that you have has united against an occupation that insults the traditions and values of this country. Honestly speaking, sir, your greatest ally is the United States, and it's the American troops in your country doing these really extraordinarily disgusting things, like urinating on corpses… I am from the United States, and there's nothing in my country's culture that tells me that's why. What happened to them here?"
President Karzai replied: "I don't know what happened to them here. This is, perhaps, a question that Americans should be asking themselves."
President Karzai agreed that what has occurred is very wrong, and when an interviewer said that these occurrences seem to be forming a pattern, he replied as follows:
"We had a lot of tension between the United States and Afghanistan over these issues. Our relations almost went to the bottom because of these issues, because of civilian casualties, because of support to private security firms, because of these incidents of violations, because of other similar activities that Afghans felt wrong, because of issues that brought our relationships under extreme stress and tension. And we've been talking about this, and I hope there will be an improvement in that. We are allies, we’ve just signed the Strategic Partnership [Agreement], but that doesn't mean that the wrongs should continue, and the right should not be thanked. No, we will continue to criticize when there is a mistake, but we will also thank them when there's something good done."