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The Eminently Quotable Karzai

  • Frud Bezhan

Following two turbulent and controversial terms in office, Hamid Karzai is poised to be the first person to leave the Afghan presidency in a peaceful transfer of power, which is expected on September 29. As his stint as president comes to a close, we look at some of his most memorable quotes over the past 13 years.

"They are now a group on the run. They are no longer a government. They are no longer a political movement. They are no longer a reality in Afghanistan. We don't see them as a danger in any way."

-- October 2002, speaking on CNN's "Late Edition" about the Taliban, one year after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan

"Afghanistan will, by the grace of God, stand on its own feet in three to four years' time. Until then, of course, we need strong support from the international community, including the United States, to stay with us and support us fully."

-- February 2003, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a month before the United States invaded Iraq

"If I could ..we would stop them and bring them down. If we had a chelak [rock attached to a piece of string], we would throw it and stop the American aircraft."

-- November 2008, arguing against air attacks on Afghan villages

"A light wrestling match has been started between us, and God willing, the winner will be Afghanistan."

-- February 2009, addressing growing differences with Washington

"We will try as soon as possible to bring peace to this soil, for ultimate peace throughout Afghanistan, and ask our Taliban brothers and others to return to embrace their own land."

-- November 2009, giving his acceptance speech after winning a second term in office

"If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban."

-- April 2010, Karzai speaking to lawmakers who rejected proposed election-law amendments, according to a parliamentarian in attendance

"The government of Iran assists [my] office with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice a year, which is official aid. This is transparent. This is something that I have discussed even with [former] President George [W.] Bush. Nothing is hidden, the United States is doing the same thing. ...It does give bags of money. Yes, it's all the same."

-- October 2010, addressing reporters following reports that Iran gave Karzai's chief of staff bags of cash, including as much as $6 million in a single payment

"God forbid, if there is ever a war between Pakistan and America, then we will side with Pakistan. If Pakistan is attacked, and if the people of Pakistan need help, Afghanistan will be there with you. Afghanistan is a brother."

-- October 2011, speaking to Pakistan's Geo Television following a downturn in relations with Islamabad

"Let's pray for God to rescue us from these two demons [the United States and the Taliban]. There are two demons in our country now."

-- March 2012, speaking after copies of the Koran were burned at the American-run Bagram Airbase

"The explosions in [the capital] Kabul and Khost [Province]... showed that they [the Taliban] are at the service of America. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents."

-- March 2013, speaking during a televised speech following suicide attacks that killed 19 people

"The existence of corruption in Afghanistan is a reality. Indeed, it is a bitter reality. [But] the corruption in our governments' institutes, such as bribery, is a small part of the corruption. The biggest part of the corruption in our country, and which involves hundreds of millions of dollars, does not belong to us. A huge part of the corruption is imposed on us in order to weaken our government. We are not to be blamed for that. That is not our fault."

-- December 2012, blaming outsiders for corruption during a televised speech

"I am a pacifist, I am a total, absolute pacifist. I don't believe in war, and I don't believe in guns, and I don't believe in politics. I think it's dirty."

-- March 2014, when asked by the "Washington Post" what the world didn't know about him

"If America and Pakistan really want it, peace will come to Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is to the benefit of foreigners. But Afghans on both sides are the sacrificial lambs and victims of this war."

-- September 2014, addressing his government during a farewell speech

"Thirteen years ago, I began my journey with my honorable nation. It wasn't an easy journey. There were a lot of thorns on the way and brutal storms. My mission was to take the delicate and thin goblet of the country safe to its destination."

-- September 2014, speaking during the inauguration ceremony of new President Ashraf Ghani

Quotes compiled from press statements, wire reports, and specific sources as noted
ALSO READ: Four Prominent Afghans Assess Karzai's Legacy
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    Frud Bezhan

    Frud Bezhan covers Afghanistan and the broader South Asia and Middle East region. Send story tips to bezhanf@rferl.org. 

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