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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Attack exposes Karzai's weakness
us guards
Many Afghans resent US guards for Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai has been living dangerously since the day he was picked up by the US from relative obscurity and made the head of the Afghan interim government that was installed in place of the Taleban.

Hamid Karzai:
Hamid Karzai: Unsafe even in stronghold
As his Afghan bodyguards could not be trusted, they were replaced recently by American commandoes in an attempt to bolster his security.

But this could not stop an assassin from attempting to kill him in his hometown, Kandahar, on Thursday.

Mr Karzai survived the attack, but the incident showed that he was not safe even in his stronghold.

As a reaction to the attack, his movements may be restricted further and he may be required to mostly stay put in his presidential office in Kabul under US protection.

That Kabul, despite the presence of the 5,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was also a dangerous place was underscored by the devastating car-bomb explosion there on Thursday.

The incidents in Afghanistan's two biggest cities on the same day may not be linked.

But the two attacks were certainly launched to coincide with the first anniversary of the 11 September tragedy.

The bombers in Kabul and the gunman in Kandahar were able to breach tight security and strike at will.

There could be more attacks as 11 September approaches, but there is no way one could possibly stop anyone willing to die for his cause.

Security lapses

It was a grim reminder to the US and the Karzai government that many Afghans were still violently opposed to their policies for Afghanistan.

It was also an indication that opponents were willing to use terrorist means to undermine the stability of post-Taleban Afghanistan.

It was not the first bomb blast in Kabul and it may not be the last.

After smaller explosions earlier that caused fear rather than killing someone, the attackers struck hard on Thursday by packing explosives in a cab and managing to park it close to information and interior ministry buildings.

Gulbaddin Hekmatyar
Gulbaddin Hekmatyar: Jihad threat
Questions were already being asked as to how a vehicle laden with explosives was able to escape the several checkposts in the city.

The inability of the law-enforcement personnel, who physically search incumbents of every passing vehicle in and around Kabul, to detect the explosives also explained the security lapses on their part.

The ISAF has been unable to provide the promised security in Kabul.

After an early phase in which the crime graph remained low in Kabul, the situation seems to have spiralled out of control lately due to murders, kidnappings and bombings.

Two cabinet members, civilian aviation minister Dr Abdul Rehman and vice-president and urban planning minister Haji Abdul Qadir, were gunned down in broad daylight in Kabul and the interim government and the ISAF could do nothing to prevent the murders or nab the killers.

The killers remain at large even now.

Mr Karzai's decision to seek the protection of American commandoes damaged his reputation among the Afghan people.

It would be difficult for Mr Karzai to inspire confidence among his people after entrusting his own security to the Americans.

Warlords rule

By the brutal standards of the Afghan tribal society, anybody who needs foreigners for his security has no business to rule Afghanistan.

The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is already being resented by sections of the Afghan population.

Rather than becoming strong after the Loya Jirga in June, Mr Karzai appears to have been rendered weak due to one crisis after another.

His government's writ does not normally run outside Kabul and the warlords continue to rule rest of the country with a vengeance.

The deteriorating situation is explained by the growing number of attacks against US and allied forces, particularly in southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taleban and al-Qaeda found support among the majority Pashtun ethnic group.

With remnants of the al-Qaeda and Taleban still at large in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and even Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, a former mujahideen leader and prime minister, threatening to wage another jihad, all one can expect is further insecurity in Afghanistan.


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See also:

05 Sep 02 | South Asia
05 Sep 02 | South Asia
05 Sep 02 | South Asia
29 Jul 02 | South Asia
03 Sep 02 | South Asia
30 Aug 02 | September 11 one year on
07 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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