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Former President Hamid Karzai, on the history and fate of Afghanistan

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AT News Report-KABUL: Former President, Hamid Karzai in an interview with a foreign media outlet on Afghanistan’s fate as a historic point of focus on the great powers and the emerging of extremists in South Asia, said that Afghanistan because of geographical circumstances had been suffering for at least two centuries.

He said in 19th century, era of the great game when the British Empire and its colonial role was there in India, Afghanistan became a confrontation center between the British Empire and the former Soviet Union.

He said the British newspaper, the Time, showed King Abdur Rehman Khan between a bear and a lion trying to juggle the two and then again in more and more serious way in the 20th century, Afghanistan suffered from the cold war tragedies between the US, The NATO and the former Soviet Union.

He added from 1919 and soviet revolution when the Soviet Union was established till late 1970, Afghanistan enjoyed a great period of stability, peace, development and education. “It was because the British Empire became weaken and the British colonial role was not in a position to intervene anymore in Afghanistan to balance against the Soviet Union and on the other side the Soviet Union emerged stronger and more powerful which was interested in Afghanistan’s stability.

We had a strong alliance with the Soviet Union and also had relations with the United States,” Karzai said.

He further went on saying during the Soviet Union invasion into Afghanistan in 1979, Afghanistan once again became a center of very intense competitions between the US and Soviet Union, adding the former Soviet Union was trying to introduce and implement its values, communism and socialist internationalism to Afghanistan. While on the other hand, the US and its allies, comprising of our neighborhood and the Arab World were engaged to turn Afghanistan into a radical religious extremist society to confront and fight the Soviet Union with the weapon of religion, Islam.

The US was intended to use Islam against the Soviet Union. It was done for the US interests that imported worst and massive consequences for Afghanistan, including the region and Soviet Union.

At the end of the conflict, when the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, there were two losers and everyone else gained. Karzai said that Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union were among the losers while the United States, Pakistan and Europe gained much.

“However, there is a continuity of our sufferings because of the religious extremism that the United States tries to use it against its opponent Soviet Union,” said the ex-president, who has frequently criticized the US wrong policies in the war-hit country.

He added the United States tried to change Afghan society into radicals, adding, that the US-led coalition had imported the Arab extremists like Osama bin Ladin into Afghanistan which added to the sufferings.

Karzai claimed the same powers were once again engaged in using extremists.

Putting light on history, Karzai said: “When we were fighting the former Soviet Union, the Americans and Westerns were talking about our war of liberation that the US and the West were going to fight to the last Afghan against the Soviet Union.”

He furthered: “unfortunately, we have been the center of the great game for the last two centuries and today again in 21st century, there is a more complex and disastrous type of game is going on among the international players where Afghan soil is once again a major center of the conflict, taking lives and smile of the Afghan people.

He said that this time the Afghan people could manage better by playing the card very carefully, adding that despite US presence in the country, they (Afghans) want a sovereign Afghanistan.

“We should ask the US to engage better with other major powers of the region that includes China, Russia, India, Iran and Pakistan in order to bring durable peace and stability in our war-hit country and the region as well,” Karzai added.

Responding to a question he said that during the Soviet Union invasion in the country, he was a student in India and for him, it was a question of sovereignty and independence just like it was in the presence of US for the Afghans, that’s why we are fighting to regain it from the United Sates.

“We were fighting against the Soviet Union to maintain our national sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, but the US and other western countries were using our liberation as a pretext to bring extremism and radicalism into Afghanistan and to defeat the Soviet Union through that.”

According to Karzai, the US intellectuals and decision makers had accepted that the United States had been using Islam to defeat the Soviet Union by turning Afghanistan into a radical society and instead of green belt around the Soviet Union, the US called it the arc of crises around the Soviet Union.

He said the US had no cost for it and Afghanistan is still paying highest cost at the hands of the religious extremists the US were trained.

Talking on the emergence of the Islamic State which is also known as Daesh terrorist group, he said the terrorist group appeared in eastern Nangarhar province in 2014 after his tenure.

“The group’s militants are well equipped and have enough money. The Daesh militants have killed a large number of Afghan people and many families in eastern Nangarhar province have been displaced as a result of their brutalities.

He added: “I talked to President Ashraf Ghani, National Security Adviser and local administration of Nangarhar to address the issue of Daesh on time, but they did not act against Daesh.”

He said unmarked helicopters have been reportedly supplying assistance to Daesh militants and the group’s militants are now moving to have footholds in the north, northwest, northeast and southwest of Afghanistan. “So, there is a large suspicion regarding active backing to the group from within and outside the country,” he added.

He said, he had clear, visible and confirmed evidences that the Daesh terrorist group had support from the foreign forces in the country.

He called Afghanistan a “very strong and united country”, saying that despite great sufferings and divisions imposed by the foreigners, the country remained very strong and powerful.

He added to make a strong observation of the history and ongoing ground realities; there are hands inside and outside Afghanistan that are making attempts to weaken the Afghan unity. “We should stop it together.”

Regarding Taliban, Karzai said: “The Afghan Taliban belong to Afghanistan and Afghan society. We must settle down with them through a political agreement. I hope they will.”

Karzai added that he had asked Taliban for years to come back to their country and live with the rest of the Afghan people.

“If they (Taliban) want the US-led NATO forces to leave the country, the better way for that is peace in country.”

“Through participation in the Loya Jirga, Taliban can get together with the rest of the Afghan people to demonstrate national unity and reflect sovereignty.”

“Through a sovereign decision with other Afghan people either ask the Americans to leave the country or ask the US to behave better in accordance with the Afghan laws and roles and not hurt the region by their presence here,” former president called on Taliban.

He said Afghanistan was a historic and old country. It dates back to thousands of years.

“We are individually very democrat in our country and each Afghan is a king which is recipe for a democracy.” He said in Afghan democracy there is no space for the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry to determine the results of election and counts the votes.

He added: “With regard to economic development, there are some models in our neighbors that we should follow.”

Quoting Egyptian former foreign minister he said: “The US democracy is a mean to influence things in the country, not to promote democracy. That is exactly what is happening in Afghanistan.”

Karzai warned those who are trying to use Afghanistan as a launching pad in the region should be countered in a positive way through cooperation in order to bring the ability to Afghanistan to exercise its sovereignty and international will.