Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Sunday questioned how ─ under the watch of US intelligence and military ─ the militant Islamic State (IS) group emerged in Afghanistan over the past few years.
Karzai, during an interview on RT, also questioned why extremism and violence had increased in Afghanistan when the US had come to the country to bring peace and stability.
“The US came to Afghanistan to bring peace and stability and defeat extremism — [yet] we have more of it today. Why? That is what we should be discussing,” Karzai said. “Clearly bombings, killings, prisons and the harassment of people [in Afghanistan] have not worked.”
Noting that IS emerged in Afghanistan over the past few years, Karzai asked: “Who did this under the watch of US intelligence and military in Afghanistan and how come?”
“We have the right to ask these questions and the US government must answer.”
When asked if he had suspicions that US bases in Afghanistan “were being used”, the former president said that he had “more than suspicions”, claiming that Afghan people had approached him and told the him that they are being supplied with helicopters.
“[They have told me about] how unmarked, non-military coloured helicopters supply these people in not just one, but many parts of the country,” Karzai said, adding that such reports were coming in on a daily basis from the people in Afghanistan and from Afghan government sources.
The interviewer, pointing out that Britain had been supporting de facto IS and Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria, asked the president about the contrasting role Britain played in Afghanistan by liberating Helmand province.
“At that time, they did help. We are grateful for what Britain has done in Afghanistan; it was a much, much softer version of what the US did,” Karzai said, admitting, however, that Helmand is no longer in control of the Afghan government today; rather, it is under the Taliban.
“How come there is more extremism in spite of millions of dollars and loss of lives?” Karzai asked. When the interviewer followed up with a question about “proof,” Karzai added: “The proof is what is happening in Afghanistan.”
He said that the questions that are being raised are founded on “fundamental evidence of wrongdoing.”
The former president concluded that bombs and military action will not bring peace to Afghanistan. Instead, he said, Afghans must develop a “mechanism of [their] own to reach to everyone, including the Taliban ─ the sons of our soil ─ to seek a settlement.”
He added that this process should be supported by everyone, adding that the US must act as a cooperative partner in the region with “big countries, such as China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and India to bring peace.”
When asked about a recent Taliban attack at an airport in Kabul that took place on the same day that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in the Afghan capital for talks, Karzai said that the attack was an “indication of how things are wrong.”
“17 years on, the Americans can’t even keep the airports safe on the day the defence secretary and the Nato chief are visiting Kabul,” he said.
Two sides to Afghan-Pak relations
The Afghan president said that there are two sides to Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan; on one hand, “when we became refugees of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, Pakistan welcomed us tremendously, like brothers and sisters, and we lived like [we would] in our own homes.”
“But then, as backers of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union, Pakistan and the Americans did the most horrible activity of trying to weaken the traditional Afghan system […] weaken our moderation, our tolerant society and turn our religion into an extreme tool,” Karzai said, adding that this involvement led to “all other things”, including 9/11 and subsequent bloodshed in Afghanistan.
”Pakistan was used by US’
Karzai hoped that Pakistan would “recognise that it was used by the US against a neighbour for a purpose that was not human” at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
He added that now the US, under President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy, is doing the same to Pakistan to “prevent integration and economic development in this region.”
Announcing his South Asia policy in August, Trump had called for greater troop deployment and Indian involvement in Afghanistan. The US president had also lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”.
Karzai added that the common point between Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding Trump’s policy was that both countries recognise it will not help matters in Afghanistan. “We don’t want to be tools in big games where we get stepped on for the objectives of others,” Karzai said. “Pakistan did the same to us, but we do not want to do this to Pakistan.”
He said that Afghanistan wants to “extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan and join hands with the region to salvage ourselves from this conspiracy.”