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Hamid Karzai
حامد کرزی

Karzai at the Munich Conference on Security Policy (2009)
President of Afghanistan
Assumed office
7 December 2004
Acting: 22 December 2001 – 7 December 2004
Vice President Karim Khalili
Mohammed Fahim
Preceded by Burhanuddin Rabbani
Personal details
Born 24 December 1957(1957-12-24) (age 65)
Kandahar, Afghanistan
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Zeenat Quraishi (1999–present)
Children Mirwais
Alma mater Himachal Pradesh University
Religion Sunni Islam

Hamid Karzai GCMG (Pashto language: حامد کرزی, Persian: حامد کرزیHāmid Karzay; born 24 December 1957) is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 22 December 2001. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001.[1] During the December 2001 International Conference on Afghanistan in Germany, Karzai was selected by prominent Afghan political figures to serve a six-month term as Chairman of the Interim Administration.[2]

He was then chosen for a two-year term as Interim President during the 2002 loya jirga (grand assembly) that was held in Kabul, Afghanistan. After the 2004 presidential election, Karzai was declared winner and became President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He won a second five-year term in the 2009 presidential election.[3]

Early life

Karzai was born on 24 December 1957 in the Karz area of Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan.[4] He is an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai tribe. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, served as the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament during the 1960s. His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, had served in the 1919 Afghanistan's war of independence and as the Deputy Speaker of the Senate. Karzai's family were strong supporters of Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan. His uncle, Habibullah Karzai, served as representative of Afghanistan at the UN and is said to have accompanied King Zahir Shah in the early 1960s to the United States for a special meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[5]

Hamid Karzai attended Mahmood Hotaki Primary School in Kandahar and Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School in Kabul. He graduated from Habibia High School in 1976.[6] From 1979 to 1983, Karzai took a postgraduate course in political science at Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. He is well versed in several languages, including his native tongue which is Pashto, as well as Dari (Persian), Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, English and French.[7]

Early career

After obtaining his Master's degree in India, he moved to neighboring Pakistan to work as a fundraiser for the anti-communist mujahideen during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan.[8] The Mujahideen were backed by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Karzai was a contractor for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time.[9] While Karzai remained in Pakistan during the Soviet intervention,[10] his siblings emigrated to the United States.[8]

Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces, Hamid Karzai returned to Afghanistan in early October 1988 to assist in the Mujahideen victory in Tarinkot. He assisted in rallying Popalzai and other Durrani tribes to oust the regime from the city as well as helped negotiate the defection of five hundred of Najibullah's forces.[11]

Karzai with U.S. Special Forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001.

When Najibullah's Soviet-backed government collapsed in 1992, the Peshawar Accords agreed upon by the Afghan political parties established the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed an interim government to be followed by general elections. Karzai accompanied the first mujahideen leaders into Kabul after President Najibullah stepped down in 1992.[10] He served as Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Karzai was, however, arrested by Mohammad Fahim (Karzai's current Vice President) on charges of spying for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in what Karzai claimed was an effort to mediate between Hekmatyar's forces and Rabbani's government. Karzai fled from Kabul in a vehicle provided by Hekmatyar and driven by Gul Rahman.[12]

When the Taliban emerged in the mid-1990s, Karzai initially recognized them as a legitimate government because he thought that they would stop the violence and corruption in his country.[13] He was offered by the Taliban to serve as their ambassador but he refused, telling friends that he felt Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was wrongly using them.[1] He lived in the city of Quetta among the Afghan refugees, where he worked to reinstate former Afghan King Zahir Shah. In July 1999, Karzai's father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was gunned down early in the morning while coming home from a mosque in the city of Quetta. Reports suggest that the Taliban carried out the assassination.[1] Following this incident, Karzai decided to work closely with the Northern Alliance, which was led by Ahmad Shah Massoud. In 2000 and 2001, he traveled to Europe and the United States to help gather support for the anti-Taliban movement. "Massoud and Karzai warned the United States that the Taliban were connected with al Qaeda and that there was a plot for an imminent attack on the United States, but their warnings went unheeded. On September 9, 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks in America, Massoud was assassinated by al Qaeda agents in a suicide bombing."[14] As the U.S. Armed Forces were preparing for a confrontation with the Taliban in September 2001, Karzai began urging NATO states to purge his country of al-Qaeda. He told BBC "These Arabs, together with their foreign supporters and the Taliban, destroyed miles and miles of homes and orchards and vineyards... They have killed Afghans. They have trained their guns on Afghan lives... We want them out."[1]

President and Chairman of a transitional administration

Karzai appointed as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration at the June 2002 loya jirga (grand assembly) in Kabul, Afghanistan.

After the 7 October 2001 launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United Front (Northern Alliance) worked with teams of U.S. special forces. Together, they overthrew the Taliban regime and mustered support for a new government in Afghanistan. Karzai and his group were in Quetta (Pakistan) at the time, where they began their covert operation. Before entering Afghanistan, he warned his fighters:

"We might be captured the moment we enter Afghanistan and be killed. We have 60 percent chance of death and 40 percent chance to live and survive. Winning was no consideration. We could not even think of that. We got on two motorbikes. We drove into Afghanistan."[15]

—Hamid Karzai, October 2001

In October 2001, Hamid Karzai and his group of fighters survived a friendly fire missile attack by U.S. Air Force pilots in southern Afghanistan. The group suffered injuries and was treated in the United States; Karzai received injuries to his facial nerves, as can sometimes be noticed during his speeches.[16] On 4 November 2001, American special operation forces flew Karzai out of Afghanistan for protection.[17]

Karzai speaking before the U.S. Congress in June 2004

In December 2001, political leaders gathered in Germany to agree on new leadership structures. Under the 5 December Bonn Agreement, they formed an Interim Administration and named Karzai Chairman of a 29-member governing committee. He was sworn in as leader on 22 December. The loya jirga of 13 June 2002 appointed Karzai as Interim President of the new position as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration.[18] Former members of the Northern Alliance remained extremely influential, most notably Vice President Mohammed Fahim, who also served as the Defense Minister.

Karzai re-enacted the original coronation of Ahmad Shah Durrani at the shrine of Sher-i-Surkh outside Kandahar where he had leaders of various Afghan tribes, including a descendent of the religious leader (Sabir Shah) who originally selected Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747 as key players in this event.[19] Further evidence that Karzai views himself fulfilling a Durrani monarch's role arise from statements furnished by close allies within his government.[20] His late brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, made statements to a similar effect.[21]

After Karzai was installed into power, his actual authority outside the capital city of Kabul was said to be so limited that he was often derided as the "Mayor of Kabul". The situation was particularly delicate since Karzai and his administration have not been equipped either financially or politically to influence reforms outside of the region around Kabul. Other areas, particularly the more remote ones, have historically been under the influence of various local leaders. Karzai has been, to varying degrees of success, attempting to negotiate and form amicable alliances with them for the benefit of Afghanistan as a whole, instead of aggressively fighting them and risking an uprising.[citation needed]

In 2004, he rejected an international proposal to end poppy production in Afghanistan through aerial spraying of chemical herbicides, fearing that it would harm the economic situation of his countrymen. Moreover, Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai – who partially helped finance Karzai's presidential campaign – was rumored to be involved in narcotic deals,[22] which has been rejected. Karzai said that he has sought in writing a number of times, but failed to obtain, proof of allegations that Ahmed Wali was involved in illegal drugs.[23][23]

2004 Afghan presidential election

Karzai's inauguration on 7 December 2004, after successfully winning the presidential election.

When Karzai was a candidate in the October 2004 presidential election, he won 21 of the 34 provinces, defeating his 22 opponents and becoming the first democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.

Although his campaigning was limited due to fears of violence, elections passed without significant incident. Following investigation by the United Nations of alleged voting irregularities, the national election commission in early November declared Karzai winner, without runoff, with 55.4% of the vote. This represented 4.3 million of the total 8.1 million votes cast. The election took place safely in spite of a surge of insurgent activity.[24]

Karzai was sworn in as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on 7 December 2004, at a formal ceremony in Kabul. Many interpreted the ceremony as a symbolically important "new start" for the war-torn nation. Notable guests at the inauguration included the country's former King, Zahir Shah, three former U.S. presidents, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

President of Afghanistan

First term (2004–2009)

After winning a democratic mandate in the 2004 election, it was thought that Karzai would pursue a more aggressively reformist path in 2005. However, Karzai has proved to be more cautious than was expected. After his new administration took over in 2004, the economy of Afghanistan has been growing rapidly for the first time in many years. Government revenue began increasing every year, although it is still heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Karzai with former US President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush at Camp David in 2007.

During the first term in Karzai's Presidency, public discontent grew about corruption and the civilian casualties in the 2001–present war. In May 2006, an anti-American and anti-Karzai riot took place in Kabul which left at least seven people dead and 40 injured.[25] In May 2007, after as many as 51 Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing, Karzai asserted that his government "can no longer accept" casualties caused by U.S. and NATO operations.[26]

In September 2006, Karzai told the United Nations General Assembly that Afghanistan has become the "worst victim" of terrorism.[27] Karzai said terrorism is rebounding in his country, with militants infiltrating the borders to wage attacks on civilians. He stated, "This does not have its seeds alone in Afghanistan. Military action in the country will, therefore, not deliver the shared goal of eliminating terrorism." He demanded assistance from the international community to destroy terrorist sanctuaries inside and outside Afghanistan. "You have to look beyond Afghanistan to the sources of terrorism," he told the UN General Assembly, and "destroy terrorist sanctuaries beyond" the country, dismantle the elaborate networks in the region that recruit, indoctrinate, train, finance, arm, and deploy terrorists. These activities are also robbing thousands of Afghan children of their right to education, and prevent health workers from doing their jobs in Afghanistan. In addition, he promised to eliminate opium-poppy cultivation in his country, which is possibly helping fuel the ongoing Taliban insurgency. He has repeatedly demanded that NATO forces take more care to avoid civilian casualties when conducting military operations in residential areas.[28] In a September 2006 video broadcast, Karzai stated that if the money wasted on the Iraq War had been actually spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, his country would "be in heaven in less than one year".[29]

2009 re-election and second term

File:Afghan presidential election, 2009 poster 4.jpg

The 2009 presidential election billboard for Karzai in Kandahar Province. Karzai won another 5 year term.

Karzai discussing security and development issues in Helmand Province on 2 January 2010.

On the eve of the 20 August presidential election, Karzai seemed at once deeply unpopular but also likely to win the majority of the votes. He was blamed by many for the failures that plagued the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the toppling of the Taliban government in 2001, from the widespread corruption and the resurgence of the (neo-)Taliban to the explosion of the poppy trade. His unpopularity and the likelihood of his victory formed an atmosphere with a kind of national demoralization, which could discourage many Afghans from voting and dash hopes for substantial progress after the election.[30][31][32]

In this second presidential election, Karzai was announced to have received over 50% of the votes. The election was tainted by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud.[33]

Two months later Karzai accepted calls for a second round run-off vote, which was scheduled for 7 November 2009.[34][35] On 2 November 2009, Karzai's run-off opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the race and election officials announced the cancellation of the run-off race. Karzai, the only remaining contender, was declared the winner a short time later.[36]

Karzai presented his first list of 24 cabinet nominees to the Afghan parliament on 19 December 2009; however, on 2 January 2010, the parliament rejected 17 of these. According to the parliament, most of the nominees were rejected due to having been picked for reasons other than their competency. A member of parliament said that they had been picked largely based on "ethnicity or bribery or money."[37]

Karzai at the 2011 Afghan Independence Day in Kabul, which is held every year on 19 August to commemorate Afghanistan's independence from British control over its foreign affairs.

On 16 January 2010, the Afghan parliament rejected 10 of the Karzai's 17 replacement picks for cabinet. MPs complained that Karzai's new choices were either not qualified for their posts or had close connections to Afghan warlords. Despite the second setback, by mid-January Karzai had 14 out of the 24 ministers confirmed, including the most powerful posts at foreign, defense and interior ministries.[38] Shortly afterwards, the parliament began its winter recess, lasting until 20 February, without waiting for Karzai to select additional names for his cabinet. The move not only extended the political uncertainty in the government, but also dealt Karzai the embarrassment of appearing at the London Conference on Afghanistan with nearly half of his cabinet devoid of leaders.[39]

Since late 2001 Karzai has been trying for peace in his country, going as far as pardoning militants that lay down weapons and join the rebuilding process. However, his offers were not accepted by the militant groups. In April 2007, Karzai acknowledged that he spoke to some militants about trying to bring peace in Afghanistan.[40] He noted that the Afghan militants are always welcome in the country, although foreign insurgents are not.[41] In September 2007, Karzai again offered talks with militant fighters after a security scare forced him to end a commemoration speech.[42] Karzai left the event and was taken back to his palace, where he was due to meet visiting Latvian President Valdis Zatlers. After the meeting the pair held a joint news conference, at which Karzai called for talks with his Taliban foes. "We don't have any formal negotiations with the Taliban. They don't have an address. Who do we talk to?" Karzai told reporters. He further stated: "If I can have a place where to send somebody to talk to, an authority that publicly says it is the Taliban authority, I will do it."[42]

In December 2009 Karzai announced to move ahead with a Loya Jirga (large assembly) to discuss the Taliban insurgency in which the Taliban representatives would be invited to take part in this Jirga.[43] In January 2010, Karzai set the framework for dialogue with Taliban leaders when he called on the group's leadership to take part in the jirga to initiate peace talks. A Taliban spokesman declined to talk in detail about Karzai's offer and only said the militants would make a decision soon.[44] In April 2010, Karzai urged Taliban insurgents to lay down their arms and air their grievances while visiting a violent northern province, adding that foreign forces would not leave the country as long as fighting continued.[45] In July 2010, Karzai approved a plan intended to win over Taliban foot soldiers and low-level commanders.[46] In mid-August 2013, Attorney General Muhammad Isaaq Aloko was said to have been sacked after meeting with Taliban officials in the U.A.E. after being told not to meet with them. However, unnamed senior cabinet officials were trying to persuade Karzai from not sacking him, while an official in Aloko's office denied the dismissal saying instead that he was at the Presidential Palace "celebrating Independence Day."[47]

Foreign relations

Karzai with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in June 2006.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen with Karzai in 2009

Karzai with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

Karzai speaking at the 47th Munich Security Conference in 2011.

Karzai's relations with NATO countries is strong, especially with the United States, due to the fact that it is the leading nation helping to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan. The United States supported him since late 2001 to lead his nation. He has made many important diplomatic trips to the United States and other NATO countries. In August 2007, Karzai was invited to Camp David in Maryland, USA, for a special meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. The United States has set up a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is currently headed by Marc Grossman. His task is to serve as a mediator and solve issues between the three nations.

Karzai's relations with neighboring Pakistan are good, especially with the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He often describes his nation and Pakistan as "inseparable twin brothers", a reference to the disputed Durand Line border between the two states. In December 2007, Karzai and his delegates travelled to Islamabad, Pakistan, for a usual meeting with Pervez Musharraf on trade ties and intelligence sharing between the two Islamic states.[48] Karzai also met and had a 45-minute talk with Benazir Bhutto on the morning of 27 December, hours before her trip to Liaquat National Bagh, where she was assassinated after her speech.[49] After Bhutto's death, Karzai called her his sister and a brave woman who had a clear vision "for her own country, for Afghanistan, and for the region – a vision of democracy, prosperity, and peace."[50] In September 2008, Karzai was invited on a special visit to witness the sworn in ceremony of Asif Ali Zardari, who became the President of Pakistan.[51] Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have improved after the PPP party took over in 2008. The two nations often make contacts with one another concerning the war on terrorism and trade. Pakistan even allowed NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan to launch attacks on militant groups in Pakistan. This was something strongly opposed by the previous government of Pakistan. The two states finally signed into law the long awaited Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement in 2011, intended to improve trade.[52][53]

Although the U.S. and others often charge that neighboring Iran is meddling in Afghanistan's affairs, Karzai believes that Iran is a friend despite Iranian-made weapons being found in his country.[54]

"We did interdict a shipment, without question the Revolutionary Guard's core Quds Force, through a known Taliban facilitator. Three of the individuals were killed... 48 122 millimetre rockets were intercepted with their various components... Iranians certainly view as making life more difficult for us if Afghanistan is unstable. We don't have that kind of relationship with the Iranians. That's why I am particularly troubled by the interception of weapons coming from Iran. But we know that it's more than weapons; it's money; it's also according to some reports, training at Iranian camps as well."[55]

General David Petraeus, Commander of US-NATO forces in Afghanistan, 16 March 2011

In 2007, Karzai said that Iran, so far, had been a helper in the reconstruction process.[56] He acknowledged in 2010 that the Government of Iran had been providing millions of dollars directly to his office.[57][58] In October 2007, Karzai again rejected Western accusations against Iran, stating, "We have resisted the negative propaganda launched by foreign states against the Islamic Republic, and we stress that aliens' propaganda should not leave a negative impact on the consolidated ties between the two great nations of Iran and Afghanistan."[59] Karzai added, "The two Iranian and Afghan nations are close to each other due to their bonds and commonalities, they belong to the same house, and they will live alongside each other for good."[60] However, just a year prior Karzai warned that, "Iran, Pakistan, and others are not fooling anyone."

"If they don't stop, the consequences will be ... that the region will suffer with us equally. In the past we have suffered alone; this time everybody will suffer with us.... Any effort to divide Afghanistan ethnically or weaken it will create the same thing in the neighboring countries. All the countries in the neighborhood have the same ethnic groups that we have, so they should know that it is a different ball game this time."[61]

—Hamid Karzai, 17 February 2006

Barack Obama meets with Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Some international criticism has centered around the government of Karzai in early 2009 for failing to secure the country from Taliban attacks, systemic governmental corruption, and most recently, widespread claims of electoral fraud in the 2009 Afghan presidential election.[23][23][62] Karzai staunchly defended the election balloting, stating that some statements criticizing the balloting and vote count were "totally fabricated." He told the media that, "There were instances of fraud, no doubt... There were irregularities... But the election as a whole was good and free and democratic." He further went on to say that, "Afghanistan has its separate problems and we have to handle them as Afghanistan finds it feasible... This country was completely destroyed... Today, we are talking about fighting corruption in Afghanistan, improved legal standards... You see the glass half empty or half full. I see it as half full. Others see it as half empty."[63]

In June 2010, Karzai travelled to Japan for a five-day visit where the two nations discussed a new aid provided by the hosting nation and the untapped mineral resources recently announced. Karzai invited Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi and others to invest in Afghan mining projects.[64] He told Japanese officials that Japan would be given priority in the bid to explore its resources. He stated, "morally, Afghanistan should give access as a priority to those countries that have helped Afghanistan massively in the past few years."[65] While in Japan, Karzai also made his first visit to Hiroshima to pray for the atomic bomb victims.[66] Japan has provided billions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan since the beginning of 2002.

Relations between Karzai and India have always been friendly; he attended university there. Afghanistan–India relations began getting stronger in 2011, especially after the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In October 2011, Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During his speech at the RK Mishra Memorial in New Delhi, Karzai told the audience that "The signing of the strategic partnership with India is not directed against any country. It is not directed against any other entity. This is for Afghanistan to benefit from the strength of India."[67]

Assassination attempts

Bodyguards from United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group provide close protection for Karzai.

Many people have plotted to assassinate Karzai in the last decade, especially the Taliban's Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network which allegedly receives support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy network.[68][69] As recent as October 2011, while Karzai was visiting India to sign an important strategic partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Afghan agents of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested 6 people in Kabul for planning to assassinate Karzai. Among those involved in the assassination plot were four Kabul University students and one of its professors, Dr. Aimal Habib, as well as Mohibullah Ahmadi who was one of the guards outside the Presidential Palace in Kabul.[70] The alleged group of assassins were associates of al Qaida and the Haqqani network, and were paid $150,000 by Pakistani-based Islamic terrorists.[71][72][73] A U.S. official said that "Our understanding is that the threat against President Karzai was real, was credible, but it was only in the early stages of planning."[74] The following is a list of other failed assassination attempts:

  • 5 September 2002: An assassination attempt was made on Karzai in the city of Kandahar. A gunman wearing the uniform of the new Afghan National Army opened fire, wounding Gul Agha Sherzai (former governor of Kandahar) and an American Special Operations officer. The gunman, one of the President's bodyguards, and a bystander who knocked down the gunman were killed when Karzai's American bodyguards returned fire. Recently, some pictures of the US Navy's DEVGRU responding to the attempt have surfaced.
  • 16 September 2004: An attempted assassination on Karzai took place when a rocket missed the helicopter he was flying in while en route to the city of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.
  • 10 June 2007: The Taliban insurgents attempted to assassinate Karzai in Ghazni where Karzai was giving a speech to elders. Insurgents fired approximately 12 rockets, some of which landed 200 metres (220 yd) away from the crowd. Karzai was not hurt in the incident and was transported away from the location after finishing his speech.[75][76][77]
  • 27 April 2008: Insurgents, reportedly from the Haqqani network, used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades to attack a military parade that Karzai was attending in Kabul.[78] Karzai was safe, but at least three people were killed, including a parliamentarian, a ten-year-old girl and a minority leader, and ten injured.[79][80][81] Others attending the event included government ministers, former warlords, diplomats and the military top brass, all of whom had gathered to mark the 16th anniversary of the fall of the Afghan communist government to the mujahideen.[82] Responding to the attack during the ceremony, the UN said the attackers "have shown their utter disrespect for the history and people of Afghanistan."[83] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, stating, "We fired rockets at the scene of the celebration." He went on to say there were 6 Taliban at the scene and that 3 were killed. "Our aim was not to directly hit someone," Mujahed said when asked if the intention was to kill Karzai. "We just wanted to show to the world that we can attack anywhere we want to".[83] The ability of the attackers to get so close to Karzai suggested they had inside help. Defense minister Wardak confirmed that a police captain was connected with the group behind the assassination attempt and that an army officer supplied the weapons and ammunition used in the attack.[84]

Personal and tribal lineage

Karzai speaking at a shura to tribal and religious leaders in his native Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.

In 1999, Hamid Karzai married Zeenat Quraishi, an obstetrician by profession who was working as a doctor with Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. They have a son, Mirwais, who was born on 25 January 2007.[85][86] According to a declaration of his assets by an anti-graft body, Karzai earns $525 monthly and has less than $20,000 in bank accounts.[87] Karzai does not own any land or property.[88]

Karzai has six brothers, including Mahmood Karzai and Quayum Karzai, who are both Afghan American restaurant owners in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area of the United States, as well as Ahmed Wali Karzai, deceased, who was the representative for the southern Afghanistan region. Quayum is also the founder of the Afghans for a Civil Society in Maryland. Karzai has one sister, Fauzia Karzai, who is the manager of Helmand restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[89] The family owns and operates several successful Afghan restaurants in the East Coast of the United States as well as in Chicago.

In initial biographical news reporting, there was confusion regarding his clan lineage; it was written that his paternal lineage derived from the Sadozai clan.[90] This confusion might have arisen from sources stating he was chosen as the tribal chief, or Khan, of the Popalzai.[91] Traditionally, the Popalzai tribe has been led by members of the Sadozais.[92] The first King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Durrani, was the leader of the Sadozais, and the Sadozai lineage continued to rule Afghanistan until 1826 when the Barakzais ascended to the throne.

Karzai is believed to be from the Shamizai subtribe of the Popalzais.[92] His grandfather, Khair Muhammad Karzai, was a head of the Popalzai tribe from Kandahar who relocated to Kabul and ran the business of a guest house. This allowed Karzai's father Abdul Ahad, to gain a foothold in the royal family, and subsequently, the parliament. These actions and upwards movement within the Popalzai tribal system, led to the Karzai family furnishing a viable Shamizai clan alternative to Sadozai leadership in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion when the Sadozai clan failed to provide a tribal leader.[92][93] He is often seen wearing a Karakul hat, something that has been worn by many Afghan kings in the past.[94][95][96][97]

Honorary degrees and awards

Karzai receiving a commemorative medallion of the 11 September 2001 attacks from Jack Kingston. The medallion was forged from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site.

Over the years Hamid Karzai has become a well recognized figure. He has received a number of awards and honorary degrees from famous government and educational institutions around the world. The following are some of his awards and honoraria.

  • A commemorative medallion of the 11 September 2001 attacks from the United States House of Representatives, presented to him by member of the House Jack Kingston on 29 January 2002.
  • An honorary doctorate in literature from Himachal Pradesh University in India, his alma mater, on 7 March 2003.
  • In June 2003, Karzai was created an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II.[98]
  • On 4 July 2004, Karzai was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his acceptance speech, Karzai stated: "Where Liberty dies, evil grows. We Afghans have learned from our historical experiences that liberty does not come easily. We profoundly appreciate the value of liberty...for we have paid for it with our lives. And we will defend liberty with our lives."[99]
  • On 22 May 2005, received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Boston University.[100]
  • On 25 May 2005, received an honorary degree from the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska — Omaha.
  • On 25 September 2006, received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Georgetown University.
  • In June 2012, received an honorary Doctorate from Nippon Sports Science University.


In August 2011, Karzai pardoned dozens of child would-be suicide bombers, and in February 2012 some of the pardoned children were re-arrested attempting to commit suicide bombings in Kandahar Province.[101]

The other main areas of criticism surrounding President Karzai involve nepotism, corruption, electoral fraud, and the involvement of his late half brother Ahmed Wali Karzai in the drug trade.

Electoral fraud

Under Karzai's administration, electoral fraud has reached such a level that Afghanistan's status as a democratic state is being questioned.[102][103] Furthermore, a special court set up personally by Karzai in defiance of constitutional norms has sought to reinstate dozens of candidates who were removed for fraud in the 2010 parliamentary elections by the Independent Electoral Commission.[104]

Financial ties with CIA and the government of Iran

On 28 April 2013, the New York Times revealed that from December 2002 up to the publication date, Karzai's presidential office has been funded with "tens of millions of dollars" of black cash from the CIA in order to buy influence within the Afghan government. The article states that "the cash that does not appear to be subject to the oversight and restrictions." An unnamed American official is quoted by the New York Times as stating, "The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States."[105]

On 17 June 2013, Senator Bob Corker put a hold on $75 million intended for electoral programs in Afghanistan after his inqueries of May 2, May 14 and June 13 to the Obama Administration regarding the CIA "ghost money" remained unanswered.[106]

Karzai has also been receiving millions of dollars in cash from the government of Iran.[107] Karzai stated that the money was given as gifts and intended for renovating his Presidential Palace in Kabul."This is transparent. This is something that I've even discussed while I was at Camp David with President Bush."[108]


According to the New York Times, many members of the Karzai family have mixed their personal interests with that of the state, and become hugely influential and wealthy by murky means.[109] Afghanistan is tied with Somalia and North Korea at the bottom of Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.[110]

Mahmud Karzai, the brother of President Karzai, was implicated in the 2010 Kabul Bank crisis. Mahmud Karzai was the 3rd largest shareholder in the bank with a 7% stake. Kabul Bank incurred huge losses on its investments in villas in Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The real estate investments were registered in the name of Kabul Bank chairman, Sherkhan Farnood. Mahmud Karzai bought one such villa from Farnood for 7 million dirhams using money borrowed from Kabul Bank and in a matter of months sold it for 10.4 million dirhams.[111] Mahmud Karzai's purchase of the 7% stake in Kabul Bank was also financed entirely through money lent by Kabul Bank with the shares as collateral.[111]

Karzai has admitted that there is widespread corruption in Afghanistan, but has blamed the problem largely on the way contracts are awarded by the international community, and said that the "perception of corruption" is a deliberate attempt to weaken the Afghan government.[112]

Unocal connection

There's been much debate over Karzai's alleged consultant work with Unocal (Union Oil Company of California since acquired by Chevron in 2005). In 2002, when Karzai became the subject of heavy media coverage as one of the front runners to lead Afghanistan, it was reported that he was a former consultant for them.[113][114][115] Spokesmen for both Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium.[116] The original claim that Karzai worked for Unocal originates from a 6 December 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde,[116] Barry Lane UNOCAL's manager for public relations states in an interview on the website Emperor's Clothes that, "He was never a consultant, never an employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our records."[117][118] Lane however did say that Zalmay Khalilzad, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, was a Unocal consultant in the mid-1990s.[119]

Taliban connection

Just Recently, Karzai's administration and the Afghanistan Intelligence agency were found to be communicating with the Pakistani Taliban about the shifting of power that may occur when the American Forces withdraw in 2014.[120] Karzai himself was in London at the time of the discovery, to participate in talks with Pakistan and the U.S. on the possible location of Taliban leader Mullah Baradar. At the time, it was unknown if Karzai was directly involved or even knew of such communications, but the corruption of his administration points to the uncertainty of the Afghan state's future after the U.S. completely withdraws its remaining troops.


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    Barry Lane: Yeah. Yeah, well that's probably one of the great urban legends. He never worked for us.
    Jared Israel: He didn't work for somebody else who worked for you?
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  120. [2]

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Burhanuddin Rabbani
President of Afghanistan

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