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Karzai Accuses U.S. Of 'Dual Policy' Toward Afghanistan

  • RFE/RL

Hamid Karzai arriving for the inauguration of his successor, Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul on September 29. Karzai led the country for nearly 13 years.

Hamid Karzai arriving for the inauguration of his successor, Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul on September 29. Karzai led the country for nearly 13 years.

Afghanistan's former President Hamid Karzai has accused the United States of pursuing a "dual policy" toward his country that has led to the expansion of extremism in the region.

In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that was broadcast on November 16, Karzai said that senior U.S. officials would tell him that neighboring Pakistan was harboring terrorists responsible for attacks inside Afghanistan but urge him not to raise the issue with Pakistani leaders.

Karzai said the United States "has been both encouraging the thief to steal and the house owner to safeguard his house."

"On the one hand, some U.S. leaders would come and tell us that Al-Qaeda and terrorism are located and nurtured in Pakistan and that they come to attack us from there," Karzai said. "On the other hand, whenever we protested against Pakistan's support for terrorism they asked us not to do so and whenever we asked them to take action, they made it clear to us that they couldn't because of various problems. Once, they came to us asking for improved and constructive relationship with Pakistan, to which we would said, 'Yes, of course, the Afghan nation wants to have good and brotherly relationship with Pakistan as we are neighbors and brothers, but without compromising Afghanistan's independence and peace.'"

The former president, who completed his second term on September 29, said that the 13-year war in Afghanistan has not achieved its desired result.

He said that "not only extremism has not been rooted out, but it has even expanded in the region."

Karzai reiterated his accusation that Pakistan was supporting the Taliban, calling the militants' insurgency "a state-sponsored tool."

But he welcomed a "strategic partnership" with Pakistan if Islamabad contributed more to the counterterrorism effort.

"Over the past three years, the United States and some of its Western allies have been trying to force Afghanistan to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Pakistan without guaranteeing Afghanistan’s peace and stability," Karzai said, adding that his response was that "we would never do it."

"Yes, we want to have a strategic partnership with Pakistan, but only once peace and stability is restored in our country," Karzai added. "We want an agreement of strategic partnership between two sovereign states. It is impossible to have Pakistan as a strategic ally while the wave of suicide bombers, destruction, and misery keeps coming to our country. The government of the United States suggested to us in formal meeting that Afghanistan should consider Pakistan’s concerns regarding India, which clearly showed that Afghan foreign policy -- at least when it comes to India -- remains under Pakistan’s shadow."

He also described what he regarded as the circumstances of his falling out with Washington despite his "good personal relationship" with U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with "other American leaders."

"However, at the beginning of 2005, my relations with the government of the United States begun to deteriorate, and a prime reason for that was [U.S.] bombings of Afghan civilians and their households and the rise of civilian casualties in Afghanistan," Karzai said. "Throughout 2004 and 2005, I kept bringing this issue up at every political debate that we had and kept using almost every available diplomatic tool to convince them."

A bilateral security agreement (BSA) signed between Kabul and Washington in late September will allow nearly 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after the international combat mission ends on December 31.

But the size of the force will be reduced by half by the end of 2015 before a complete pullout that is scheduled by the end of 2016.

The former president supported Moscow's position on its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, saying the Black Sea peninsula was historically part of Russia.

"The Russians took their own land back and we supported and appreciated their right to do so," Karzai said when asked about the Ukraine crisis.

Karzai suggested the annexation could serve as an "exemplary act" for Afghanistan to "reclaim" its lands, which Karzai said Afghanistan lost after the Durand Line -- international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan -- was established by Britain in 1893.

Karzai, who completed his second term on September 29 and was succeeded by Ashraf Ghani, the winner of an election marred by fraud claims, said he has no intention of setting up an opposition movement of his own.

Karzai said he was "not in a business of forming an opposition" and urged "others to restrain from political acts of rallying an opposition" for the sake of peace and rebuilding the country.

"At the moment, Afghanistan does not need an opposition -- it needs joint efforts by all Afghans to help lead the country towards the desired destination, which is a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan," Karzai said.