Trump, Putin must work together on Afghanistan: Karzai

Karzai sbKABUL: The former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai said the United States and Russia must work together to plot a path along which the Central Asian country could progress.

During an interview with EFE in New Delhi, Karzai said he was convinced the Taliban, wrested from power during the American invasion in 2001, sought a peace process to end the bloody conflict that has ravaged Afghanistan.

The former Afghan leader congratulated Donald Trump on the day of his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States and said he would wait to see the first steps he takes in the fight against extremism in Afghanistan.

“Now that President Trump has recognized the need for friendship with Russia, which is a good thing that I admire in him, he must as soon as possible sit down with President Putin (Vladimir Putin of Russia) and chart a common way forward,” Karzai said.

The former president, who held office from 2001-14, said in order for Trump to employ actionable policies in the region he must first re-analyze and re-evaluate what had gone wrong in the past.

He said peace in his country was achieved “by being clear with Pakistan, first,” alluding to Pakistani interference in the Afghan conflict.

“Second, by seeking the cooperation of Russia, China and India. Mainly, especially Russia here, because Russians are very suspicious now of what is going on,” he continued.

He said the US sent troops to Afghanistan with “a declared purpose: the defeat of extremism and terrorism,” adding that the objective had not been achieved.

Karzai added the Islamic State terror group had caused “lots of concerns in the region.”

This was the reason why Russian “doubted” US policy on Afghanistan, he said.

They questioned whether its aim was to overcome terror or whether there were broader goals.

Karzai said relations were fluid with the administration of George W. Bush, but with Barack Obama they deteriorated, leading him to criticize Washington which he accused of causing civilian casualties, loss of security, the creation of parallel power structures in Afghanistan and the “complete negligence” of Pakistan.

Asked why he had not taken action as president to put an end to this situation, he said he had in fact done so, by refusing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US, which allowed US troops to remain on Afghan soil.

“I raised my voice in a very forceful way in 2006,” he said, adding that he was not against the US presence and did not want their troops to leave.

He assured the Taliban never spoke of war _ “nobody wants his family to live forever under threat”_ and collectively demanded the exit of foreign troops and the setting up of an Islamic government.

Karzai said that once the situation was ready and those blocking peace began to cooperate, the world would see that through negotiations, many questions, doubts and demands would be answered in a mutually beneficial way.

He confirmed there was a relationship between Russia and Iran and the Taliban due to the presence of the IS in the country.

“Imagine a situation where things have gone so badly, where trust has gone so low, where things in Afghanistan, the US presence and all that is seen with so much suspicion that the Russians and the Iranians would go to befriend the Taliban,” he said.

The president rejected the possibility of presenting himself as a candidate in the 2019 elections and insisted that it was important to step aside and allow a new generation of Afghanis to lead.

“I’ve done my best, I was for 13 years the president of Afghanistan and I delivered what I had to the Afghan people,” said Karzai.

By NoemíJabois and José Luis Paniagua

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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