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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Karzai calls for national army
Hamid Karzai
Karzai wants to forge closer links with his people

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has made his first scheduled national address on radio in a move aimed to bring him in closer touch with his people.

The Radio Kabul broadcast focussed on the importance of national security.

Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim
Mr Karzai's defence minister was singled out for praise
Speaking in his native Pashtun, the Afghan president said the nation needed to build a national army which represents all Afghanistan's diverse populations and whose first interest is sovereignty.

In a country where many provinces remain dominated by warlords whose first interests are their own, the construction of a national army is a key to unity.

Mr Karzai said the lack of an army is causing insecurity, and threatens a dark future.

Weapons collected

He voiced his appreciation of statements made by key power broker and Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim, who this week called for all weapons to be handed over to his ministry.

The president reassured his listeners that the arms would go to the ministry, and not to any private army.

The decision by Hamid Karzai to deliver regular addresses on radio is described as an effort to communicate with his people.

Given the communications difficulties which remain in Afghanistan, the president's spokesman told the BBC that it was important that people knew what the president was thinking and doing, and a radio broadcast was the ideal medium for him to communicate his message.

Mr Karzai closed off his address by promising to be back on the airwaves in two weeks' time.


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15 Aug 02 | South Asia
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