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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: HAMID KARZAI LEADER OF THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN FEBRUARY 3RD, 2002
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: The leader of the interim government in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was in Britain this week for talks on his way back from the States and so on with Tony Blair. Mr Karzai appealed for help in securing a much bigger peace keeping force for his country from the rest of the world and in an exclusive interview I spoke to Mr Karzai about the future of his interim government and his views about the conditions of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, but first I asked him how many extra peace-keeping troops he would like?
HAMID KARZAI: We have not yet determined how many we need, when I mentioned the security forces and basically reflecting the demand of the Afghan people, of those people that have come to see me in hundreds from the first year of immigration until last week when I began my visit. So it's basically repeating what the Afghans have asked me to, to do for them, more security forces.
DAVID FROST: And if you don't get them what would be the effect on Afghanistan?
HAMID KARZAI: Well the, the reason that people ask for it is because they want to make sure that the international community stays committed to Afghanistan, that it does not abandon Afghanistan again as it was done once. So it's more a symbolism that they're asking for. Not, not a security force for physical security of Afghan people, no that's there, that we can manage on our own. But our people want this force to make sure that the international community is staying with Afghanistan, as a sign that they're staying and they are committed to Afghanistan and also a sign to in the region that people will not have an opportunity any more to try to meddle in Afghan affairs or to cause trouble or civil things.
DAVID FROST: Mr Blair for instance has said very clearly that in terms of not running away from helping Afghanistan Britain is right there, but at the same time he, he said no to extra troops, didn't he?
HAMID KARZAI: He didn't say no to extra troops, nobody has said yet no to the expansion of the international security force, they're studying it. Britain is the leading element of the international security force right now, Britain is leading that force right now in Kabul and it will be leading it for another two months or so and after that leadership role ends Britain will still continue to be in Afghanistan in the international security force. The international security force is composed of many countries and it will be all those countries and the UN and the US will be deciding on the expansion of it and the number of expansion, how many should be the number of troops.
DAVID FROST: And although they, they have this symbolism in their role as Europe you rightly said they will have a role in law and order, how would you, how would you characterise the situation of law and order around Afghanistan?
HAMID KARZAI: Law and order is generally okay but for a country like ours that has undergoing tremendous shocks, tremendous brutality, our people are very, very worried for the recurrence of that so it's this feeling that, that makes us very sensitive and intolerant of even minor incidents in Afghanistan that we might go back to, to a bad situation. There's a little trouble since the day before yesterday in one, in one part of the country in Paryshir provence which is going to be resolved, we were expecting that thing actually it was bad.
DAVID FROST: Were you?
HAMID KARZAI: Yes, yes, we were expecting it.
DAVID FROST: How many, how many members of Al Queida, or extreme members of Taliban are still in hiding or whatever in Afghanistan, I mean how many have not been dealt with?
HAMID KARZAI: Few have been arrested, rather quite a few have been arrested but the majority of them are on the run. The difference is that Al Queida, the terrorist organisation as from a government to the fugitive now, they were the government, they were in control of Afghanistan, they were authority, they are now fugitives, they're running away from law and we are looking for them. We catch some of them almost, very, very often and we are also looking for the big ones.
DAVID FROST: Do you think the big ones will be found, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omah?
HAMID KARZAI: Eventually, eventually, it's a question of time, it's a question of time, you never know, you might find them tomorrow, you might find them a year from now, but you will find them.
DAVID FROST: And will the war against the terrorist groups continue for, for that long, I mean yes for a year or more really, is it an on-going struggle?
HAMID KARZAI: I, I, in my mind I have not set a timeframe for that, in my mind and I'm going to continue to fight them for as long as it takes. To fight them does not mean that there is really fighting between us and them, no, to look for them, to hunt them, to seek them from their hideouts, from their mountain hideouts and from their, you know, caves and things. We will keep looking for them in the forms of groups and as individuals, we will not let down unless we are sure, until we are sure that it is finished, that terrorism is finished, they've been taken, that they're tried, that their plans are revealed, that you're sure that the world community is safe from their menace.
DAVID FROST: Are you confident in what you've seen so far that the various tribes and tribes within tribes can be reconciled when you have your grand council in June?
HAMID KARZAI: Yes I think that the, I'm absolutely confident we will have the grand council convened by the 22nd of June, God willing, and the people will get there to, to discuss the future of Afghanistan to appoint a new government and a new leadership and I'm sure they will do well.
DAVID FROST: That will work?
HAMID KARZAI: Oh I'm very confident of that, very, very confident.
DAVID FROST: What is your view on the, the debate that goes on about Guantanamo Bay and whether these people should be detainees or prisoners of war, where do you stand on that?
HAMID KARZAI: I stand very clear on that, I have seen these people in Afghanistan, these terrorists that are now in, in Guantanamo Bay, they are not prisoners of war, they are plain, clear criminals, we have seen them the way they killed Afghan people, we have seen them the way they've destroyed lives in Afghanistan, the way they've destroyed property in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not at war with anybody and they kept destroying the Afghan people, their lives, for five or six years. In Afghanistan they were against life itself and they as they to those in to go to America in, in the attack on the twin towers. How would you treat somebody that wants to destroy people's lives in a commercial building, with a heinous crime like that, as prisoners of war? I don't, I don't see them as prisoners of war but they should be treated alright, they should be given food, they should be given rooms, they should be given, you know, whatever a human being needs. That's a different question, we cannot call them prisoners of war but we should treat them alright, there should be difference between us and them, a lot of difference, you are good, you're humane and that's what we should do. But they are not prisoners of war, they're criminals.
DAVID FROST: We've started by talking about troops and how many, and more troops are needed, in terms of the other vital factor, namely money, Afghanistan, you were offered 4.5 billion by the meetings in Tokyo and so on, is that enough?
HAMID KARZAI: It's enough in a way to begin the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We have $4.5 billion for a period of four to five years and we have $1.8 billion for 2002. So that money comes quickly to Afghanistan, if it is utilised quickly by us and the international community in an efficient manner for the reconstruction of Afghanistan it's a good thing, it's a very good thing.
DAVID FROST: And in fact was not even the case that when you came into office that Mullah Omah there was literally no, not even cash around?
HAMID KARZAI: Not a single penny in the banks, they had problems with all the money.
DAVID FROST: Really.
HAMID KARZAI: Shocking, with all the money, unbelievable.
DAVID FROST: And in terms of your own army, the idea of you having your own army was sympathetically received in, in Washington it seemed but others say with all the problems with Afghanistan and they've got $4.5 billion for God sake don't waste it on, on war?
HAMID KARZAI: Well that money shouldn't go to, to the army, to the building of the army, that money should go for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The building of the Afghan Army, the institutionalisation of that as a national force does not take much money, it's a minor amount and we will find it elsewhere and I think we will. But we have to have a national defence force, in order to be able to defend against the, the, the threat of terrorism, in order to secure our borders. Terrorists aren't based in Afghanistan, terrorism began to hurt the rest of the world from Afghanistan because we were not capable of defending ourselves, because they were, the upper hand because they had what, what the state should have, they had the forces. So now that they're defeated we must raise a national Afghan Army and defend the country as such.
DAVID FROST: Well I think you've got the good will of the world behind you at this particular time in all you seek to do. Thank you very much for being with us, in fact you have not only the blessing of the New York Times or the London Daily Telegraph but magazines like Vogue are endorsing you as well?
HAMID KARZAI: Well that's good news for Afghanistan's traditional clothes industry and I think I should ask those people, the businesses to come and to look what's happened in London, I'm sure they'll be buyers.
DAVID FROST: I'm sure there will. Thank you.
HAMID KARZAI: Good for us.
DAVID FROST: Thank you very much indeed.
HAMID KARZAI: Thank you very much.
DAVID FROST: The charming and elegant Mr Karzai there.
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