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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai answered your questions in a special edition of Talking Point on BBC News Online and BBC News Interactive as part of a series on Islam and the West.


A powerful Pashtun leader from the Taleban's former stronghold of Kandahar, President Hamid Karzai has led Afghanistan since December 2001 following the fall of the Islamic fundamentalist Taleban.

Since then the charismatic 44-year-old has carved out a high profile at home and abroad with a reputation as a shrewd statesman.

But infighting between local commanders over power and territory has become a striking feature of the post-Taleban period.

The president recently warned that an extra $15bn would be needed to help the country build its economy and begin generating its own revenues, as well as to fight the threat posed by former Taleban members.

What is the role of Islam in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taleban? What are the tasks ahead for the interim administration in order to successfully rebuild the country?


Transcript

Lyce Doucet:
Welcome to Talking Point, I'm Lyce Doucet. We're broadcasting on BBC World Television, BBC World Service on radio and BBC News Online on the internet. Today our special guest is President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. He joins us here in Britain at the governing Labour Party's annual conference on the south coast of England, he's the guest speaker here.

Much has changed in Afghanistan since President Karzai came to power after the fall of the Taleban nearly two years ago. But in recent months there's been a resurgence in attacks by remnants of the Taleban. And some Afghans say their own lives really haven't improved much. President Karzai recently appealed for more international aid, for $15 billion more and more help to strengthen security across his country. He also joins us for our special series which brings together leaders and Muslims from all walks of life to discuss the changing relationship between the West and the Islamic world after the events of September 11 and the war in Iraq.

President Karzai welcome to Talking Point. We've received many calls and many e-mails from around the world, people who have questions for you. But first let me ask, you've been to the United States, you've been to Canada, here you are in Britain, your message is the same - Don't forget Afghanistan. Did you receive concrete pledges of aid?

Hamid Karzai:
Well I was very happy to receive support from President Bush, from Chancellor Schroeder, from President Mitterand and today from Prime Minister Blair and in Canada from the Canadian Prime Minister - Mr Chretien.

Lyce Doucet:
Moral support or actual .

Hamid Karzai:
Moral and also actual support in terms of ISAF .

Lyce Doucet:
The International Security Assistance Force, you've been asking for peacekeepers to be expanded outside of Kabul.

Hamid Karzai:
Exactly.

Lyce Doucet:
Is that going to happen?

Hamid Karzai:
That is going to happen I hope .

Lyce Doucet:
Definitely?

Hamid Karzai:
There's now a lot of talk about it, a lot of positive talk about it and I'm sure it will take place in the form of the PRTs - provincial reconstruction teams - that are going to the provinces or in the form of actual security provision for the people. To the extent that the help has come so far, we in Afghanistan are grateful for that all the time. But if there can be more of it Afghanistan will do better.

Lyce Doucet:
What about your appeals for aid nearly two years ago $4.5 billion were pledged at the Tokyo conference, now it's estimated that you need $20-30 billion over the next five years - are they responding?

Hamid Karzai:
Well the destruction of Afghanistan is such, they're not about to rebuild our lives and stand on our own feet and to be able to defend ourselves and to protect ourselves and to watch the borders and to fend off against terrorism, we need that sort of support in the longer term. It has to be a sustained programme from last year to today and from today for another four or five years. That sort of support is needed in order for Afghanistan to be able to rebuild its institutions - its army, police, judicial sector, a democratic system and eventually a state that can benefit from its own resources and its own economic activity.

Lyce Doucet:
Very big agenda and we have many people who want to ask you questions about it, so let's take the first caller on the line. This is Almay Gazhi [phon.] who's calling us from the United States. Almay welcome to Talking Point, what would you like to ask the President?

Almay Gazhi:
Yes, hi Mr Karzai. There is a general left feeling notion among the people here in the United States that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow connected. The politicians and the media are constantly putting Iraq and Afghanistan in the same category. It's very unfair for the Taleban situation to be confused with the Iraqi dilemma. It's very important to inform and educate, especially the American people, that the problem in Afghanistan is a problem for the whole world and cannot be ignored and needs to be fixed at any cost. Where the war in Iraq is an unpopular war created by a very few without the world's consent. I'm afraid that the growing opposition here in the US and international discontent, especially in the Muslim world, to the war in Iraq will once again force Afghanistan into isolation. Mr Karzai does this concern you at all?

Hamid Karzai:
This was a very, very, very good remark and I agree with you very much. The situation in Iraq and that in Afghanistan are two very different situations. Afghanistan is a case where progress has been achieved, Afghanistan's a case where there is [indistinct words] to international peace and security and if you do not handle this correctly, if you do not make Afghanistan stand on its own feet that threat might re-emerge. And you are right, I think we should make more and speak more that the world gets more informed about the differences in Iraq and Afghanistan for us and for the rest of the world.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you very much Almay for joining us from the United States. And President Karzai we've received an e-mail from someone who also lives in the United States and he wants to ask you whether you believe there was an increase in anti-American sentiment among the Afghans since the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces?

Hamid Karzai:
The Afghan people are concerned mostly with their own lives. We have suffered for 30 years of unbelievable agony and tyranny. And we are concerned with making our own lives. Of course we're concerned with fellow Muslims in the rest of the world and the Afghan people would want for the Iraqis as they want for themselves - peace and security and a government of their own and self-determination. We support the tribes in the Iraqi people and the Afghan people, of course, would be happy to see Iraq do well.

Lyce Doucet:
Someone who asks another question, he was worrying that any anti-American sentiments could actually help in the resurgence of the Taleban.

Hamid Karzai:
That is not the case. In Afghanistan there's still massive support for the international forces present in Afghanistan. Just about three weeks ago myself and the rest of the National Security Council were talking to refugees and to officials for the repatriation and two of the refugees representatives told us that they would go back to their areas of original stay only if there is the national army for Afghanistan present there or else the international security forces of the coalition forces go and provide them with security. So that kind of feeling indicates that the Afghan people, very pragmatically though, are still considering the presence of the international forces as good for the country at this time.

Lyce Doucet:
Zahoor Khan is on the line here in London, England. Zahoor what's your question for the President?

Zahoor Khan:
Hi there Mr Karzai. I just was wondering if you feel sort of the way, myself and many of my own Muslim friends here in the UK feel that the Afghanistan issue's been sort of sidelined about the future security and stability in Afghanistan in the light of the Iraqi war, especially now that it seems to be the fact that all the reasons we were given for going to war with Iraq have now turned out to be - the majority which seem to be false?

Hamid Karzai:
Initially sir, I had that kind of feeling, I was afraid that Afghanistan would be forgotten because of the situation in Iraq and because of the operation there. Later on, after my visit to Washington and London and other capitals, I was given the assurance that that would not be the case. And this time in the trip to New York and today in London I was given a double reassurance that Afghanistan would remain to be focused on. And now $1.2 billion fresh assistance for Afghanistan and other governments will do the same. The German Chancellor, Chancellor Schroeder announced Afghanistan as a priority area for Germany. So that concern is now not very much there. But we should watch and not allow the world to forget us.

Lyce Doucet:
Zahoor, you're pleased with that answer?

Zahoor Khan:
Well sort of because I mean I remember quite clearly Jack Straw kind of pledging that the West would not desert and forget about Afghanistan like it did so many years ago when the Russians left and left a power vacuum. And so I just - obviously so many people in this country were against the war in Iraq and obviously around the world and so it would be a shame to see the commitment made to Iraq, which now we seem to be very much stuck in, to sort of embolden the suffering of the Afghan people who still don't have two years on the .

Hamid Karzai:
Exactly .

Zahoor Khan:
.. that they were promised. And in taking that point forward, if I may, it kind of makes you wonder that if in two years we haven't been able to get stability that we were promised in Afghanistan, what hope is there really for Iraq in that respect as well?

Hamid Karzai:
Well there are two things here. First of all I hope the world has learned that abandoning Afghanistan, like they did when the Soviet's left, the way it cost them, the way it cost us in our country and the rest of the world would not be repeated and that must be lesson enough. Mankind learns from experience and that experience I hope will stay with the Western countries strongly. Secondly, with regard to Afghanistan we have still difficulties, the difficulties remain in two areas - continued terrorist activity in Afghanistan, especially coming from across our neighbourhood - and the internal armed groups and gangs that go and pillage homes and make life very difficult for people in Afghanistan. We are working on both the fronts. On the question of terrorism I'm in close contact with President Musharraf in Pakistan and with the government of Pakistan. So let's hope that we see a substantial lessening in the harassment of the Afghan peacemaking and reconstruction process. On the economic side though, Afghanistan is doing very well. We have good rains, we have snow, surplus crops, the economy's picking up, the reconstruction of highways across Afghanistan is going on, we had 30% economic growth last year, according to the IMF, and that's good enough for us. We hope to be able to do 20% this year and if this tend continues for another few years Afghanistan should be in good shape I hope.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you for joining us. A lot of people who e-mailed us, President Karzai, were worried about the resurgence of the Taleban. Idris Abdillahi Ibrahim from Somaliland asks you, he says: As widely reported the remnants of the Taleban are regrouping in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, as you know. How would you deal with the Taleban since he believes they enjoy the same support that you do among the Pashtun?

Hamid Karzai:
Well I would disagree slightly. First of all we don't know. If the people that are coming and attacking the road workers, burning schools for little girls and boys, killing aid workers are actually Taleban or even Afghans or not, we don't know where they come from. So the origin of that attack is a bit murky and we are looking into it to find out the roots of it. But probably the roots of those attacks were outside of Afghanistan, like they were when Afghanistan suffered. Secondly, if violence, extremism, and the work against Afghanistan has any place in the Afghan people the Taleban government and their friends in al-Qaeda would just be defeated in a matter of a month - the Americans only bombed Taleban positions, they did not send soldiers to chase them out, they were chased out by the Afghan people. Where I fought against them, that was precisely what happened. I never engaged in any military operation against them, when I moved from village to village the Taleban were not there, the people chased them out. So I believe in that.

Lyce Doucet:
We're going to take a caller now on the line from Namibia in Africa, Julius Kalimbo [phon.] joins us here on Talking Point. Julius what's your question for President Karzai?

Julius Kalimbo:
Yes good evening. First I have some suggestions. I have been monitoring the whole process since the war started in Afghanistan but I begin to believe that why Mr Karzai, if I can mention his name [indistinct words] why his excellency cannot most probably accommodate the Taleban in his government because if he goes now and then I believe the war will never stop. And if his process or his system of eliminating the Taleban continues then what then? Because it's like the Taleban has a majority in the country and if they got eliminated then it seems like the whole population is eliminated. So now my point is how does his excellence want to be remembered after his term of office? Do you want to be remembered as a person who was really there for the Afghanistan people? Or do you want to be remembered as the person who committed genocide in Afghanistan? Because the system of eliminating the people is a critical process you understand? And I believe if you accommodate those people in your government surely the peace and stability in the country would continue and the development of the country can then start. That's what I'm trying to say.

Hamid Karzai:
Good question, good question. I would certainly like to be remembered as a man who stood for Afghanistan and Afghan people. Nobody wants to eliminate the Taleban. I don't know, probably you've not heard my speeches and my remarks, for some of my remarks have got me into trouble as well with some people in my country. There are Taleban who are part of Afghanistan. Taleban is the student of the religious school, there are thousands of them, they are studying there. There are others who were part of their troops who have gone back and are staying in their villages. There were those in the leadership of the Taleban who are now staying back in their villages. We, the Afghan society, nobody has anything to do with them, they are part of our country, they are part of our blood, part of our society, I was with them in the beginning of the Taleban movement, I know them personally. We are against terrorism. Those few, very, very few, probably no more than 50 people who have been associated with terrorism and violence against the Afghan people that we cannot accept back. They're not in Afghanistan anymore, they have run away from our country, they're somewhere else. So with the larger part of the Taleban, who are several thousand people, who were soldiers, who were ordinary people, we have repeatedly asked for their safety and I will continue to ask for their safety and there are people that I know who are very good people and I would very much like them to be - to come back and be part of Afghanistan. I'm working for that. Your suggestion is a good one.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you Julius for joining us from Namibia. Many of our people who e-mailed us mentioned the issue of the Taleban but also of religion, we're putting a very special series on the BBC about Islam in politics and Raj Kumar, who lives in the United Kingdom, says: I've noticed a resurgence in fundamentalist Islam in Pakistan, in Iraq and in many other Arab countries. Is this an acceptable part of Muslim culture seeing as it is so widespread and how do you plan to fight extremist Islam?

Hamid Karzai:
Islam is Islam. Islam is a religion with a set of principles and a way of life, with a way of social behaviour. It has fundamentals, like any other religion. I'm a fundamentalist in Islam - I believe in the fundamentals of Islam, I believe in what Islam teaches me and how to practise that. It is not extremism. Islam is for peace, Islam is for social justice, Islam is for the good of humanity. Islam dreads - runs away from anarchy. In the time of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, there is a saying attributed to the prophet, peace be upon him, that if a man goes to a place where there is no rule of law, he should run away from there because that means anarchy and there he will not be safe. So extremism is not part of Islam. Extremism has been developed, brought about as instrument of government policy by certain states. That's not the fault of Islam. Islam's turned against that. Islam has been used by those people to justify what they were doing to gain access to other people or to affect other people or to influence other lives, it's got nothing to do with Islam.

Lyce Doucet:
Well we have a caller now on the line from Sweden, we're joined by NK, N what's your question.

NK: Thank you. My question is what is the role of Islam in your government in terms of political legitimacy and judiciary in the sense according to [indistinct words], how were you able [indistinct word] the justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, rule of law, international standards and Afghan legal tradition - how will you combine all these elements? Do you have any morals [indistinct words]?

Hamid Karzai:
Thank you very much. We have an Afghan moral, we're a Muslim country and our constitution will be based on Islam and the principles of Islam. Our constitution will take everything into account but does not contradict the principles of Islam. Our constitution, the principle that you're working on clearly speaks of Afghanistan adherence to international humanitarian law, to international conventions and to the rule of law, it does not contradict Islam, it runs together with Islam. A notion has been created that probably thinks in Islam, stand against international humanitarian laws or other laws that are good for the humanity, Islam actually preaches you to do that. It guides you towards that direction. So we see no contradiction and Afghanistan will be in full observance of the laws that the rest of the international community follow and also in full observance of the Islamic principles - those go together, they don't go against each other.

Lyce Doucet:
If I could add that the draft of the constitution is now being made available and it should be approved in December but there is still a concern that there will be a battle about should there be Sharia law in your country, what kind of Islamic democratic state should it be, do you worry there will be these battles?

Hamid Karzai: It is natural to have discussions in any society that's making a new constitution, there will be ideas, there will be extents of ideas and I think the loya jirga, the grand council, will come out - nicely out of it.

Lyce Doucet:
But you're not too worried that there's .

Hamid Karzai:
I'm not worried no. . we've probably gone past that stage.

Lyce Doucet:
Because we received e-mails from many people who asked us about the issue of the role of Sharia law, Harm Tuenter who is in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands said: What can you tell us about the role of Islam Sharia in governing today's Afghanistan and what's the state's tolerance towards religious minorities? Is everybody free to practise his or her personal beliefs?

Hamid Karzai:
Yes absolutely. It's not the first time. It has been the case all along in Islam. And to add something to it - we sent 460,000 questionnaires to the Afghan people on the constitution, we have received back, so far, 85,000 questionnaires, maybe more by now because I've been away for 10 days, 17,000 verbal messages from the Afghan people, 6,000 letters. In those questionnaires, in the 85,000, the essence of them talks about the unity of the Afghan people, Islam as the religion of the country and social justice. And then it comes back to asking us to also provide protection and tolerance for other religions, Islam provides that, Islam protects that, there is no contradiction there.

Lyce Doucet:
Well President Karzai we're going to move more into squarely into politics now.

Hamid Karzai:
Sharia - I'd like to talk about Sharia. Sharia means the rule of law. In Islam Sharia's the rule of law, it has a set procedure. You have to provide in the society conditions for social justice, for better economy, for access of jobs and economic opportunity for all. And within that Sharia is applied.

Lyce Doucet:
We understand the draft constitution actually doesn't include Sharia law, it talks about an Islamic state but not Sharia .

Hamid Karzai:
It speaks for the principles of Islam. I'm trying to explain to the gentleman there as to what Sharia means, Sharia's nothing other than the rule of law, the rule of law's matured in your country, you have a tradition of law, you have a sense of law. Sharia is sense of law given to you by Islam trying to bring to you a society that one finds just, where justice is done, where violence has been prevented, where oppression is prevented, where people are given access to a just system under the rule of law.

Lyce Doucet:
Mr President there's just as many questions about politics. We've received an e-mail through the BBC's Persian Service from Mohammad Shoayib who lives in Herat in Afghanistan. He says: Don't you think that if - like many other Afghan leaders and commanders - you also ran a political or a military group or party it would be much easier for you to make decisions for the country?

Hamid Karzai:
If I have a political party?

Lyce Doucet:
Yes.

Hamid Karzai:
I don't think so. Afghanistan was destroyed, tormented, put through lots of suffering because of the bickering, because of the in-fighting, because of the political agendas of the parties that were not national. Afghanistan needs to have a day off on that. We have to build the Afghan society in the country, in the state, towards a future that is stable, peaceful, economically well off. And in that context develop political party law, which we have now developed, which will provide people with a platform to form political parties in which having an armed group or association with an armed group will be completely banned. The military, the army, in other institutions that are important for the state, will not be allowed to play or engage in politics or the political party staff members from them. I'm not personally inclined too much towards political parties, I think we have suffered a lot from them.

Lyce Doucet:
You won't lead one, Mr President, if you run for President next year in Afghanistan in the elections?

Hamid Karzai:
I don't know if I will lead a political party, but definitely a movement amongst the people.

Lyce Doucet:
Are you setting one up now? Preparing?

Hamid Karzai:
Yes.

Lyce Doucet:
So you will run?

Hamid Karzai:
Yes.

Lyce Doucet:
Well there you announced it now. Well we've got Fariq Sharasi [phon.] on the line from California, we know there's a big Afghan community there. Fariq Sharasi what's your question?

Fareed Shirzai:
Firstly Mr President thank you for taking my call. The question is why or for how long are you going to keep some of these known notorious warlords in the government while yourself cannot trust them, clearly indicated when you were choosing American bodyguards for yourself?

Hamid Karzai:
Well we have to progress gradually, we're not bringing a revolution in Afghanistan, we're bringing a gradual change in this country through peaceful means, through means that everybody will agree with. Afghanistan has gone through years of distrust and suffering and we must not repeat that, we must allow time in order for this country to go to a better, stronger, stable political future through legitimate activity. And we have done well so far and we should be cautious and try to take the whole society towards a civil form of politics, away from violence. And I have the patience and it has worked so far and I hope you will have that patience with us too.

Lyce Doucet:
Fariq Sharasi do you agree with that approach?

Fareed Shirzai:
Actually yes, well the question is I don't think in my idea that people who are - if you're trying to have a government for the people of Afghanistan a stable government is that a good way to have the notorious people of that country and the group in the structure?

Hamid Karzai:
We are preparing .

Fareed Shirzai:
. years since your government has been established.

Hamid Karzai:
Yes I got you I got you. We have done a lot since then and we will do more. But we are preparing a constitution. We are having a political party law now. And people have a choice to make now, they can form political parties and we'll be having elections in eight months time, we're working very hard for that. And in that election the Afghan people will have a chance to decide - those that they elect will be their representatives, those that they don't elect will have to wait for their turn. I believe the time for warlordism, for gun totting elements, rampaging villages, ruining lives in Afghanistan is gone, the Afghan people don't want that. But that has to take place through a peaceful coherent political transformation.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you Fariq Sharasi for joining us from California. We also have an e-mail from Vahid Ara who is in Mazar-e-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan, it was sent to us through the BBC's Persian Service. He says: Mr Karzai, you have on several times and today again expressed your anger and dissatisfaction about instability in Afghanistan and warned those who are responsible for it. What do you have to say now as the situation hasn't changed for the better? And of course he lives in Mazar-e-Sharif where we've seen some of the worst cases of fighting among the powerful commanders, known as the warlords.

Hamid Karzai:
He is right to be frustrated. I get frustrated too, I get very angry when I hear innocent lives still at the mercy of these people, of the armed groups. It really angers me, it really suffocates me. But then we have to think and find out the best ways of bringing safety to people's lives. This gentleman is in Mazar-e-Sharif, we sent a delegation, headed by [names] a few days ago and the delegation came back with sets of recommendations. On my return tomorrow to Kabul we'll work on the recommendations and implement them. And I hope that through those measures and other measures that we will follow we'll bring some safety to people there.

Lyce Doucet:
Well we're going to be joined now by Rosa Yari [phon.] who's a woman refugee from Ghazni in Afghanistan. Rosa welcome to Talking Point, what would you like to ask President Karzai?

Rosa Yari:
Thank you. My question is directly pointing to the current security issues in Afghanistan and although we have been pushing hard to stabilise security and peace in Afghanistan since the removal of the Taleban the evidence shows that your attempts have not been very effective. For instance there are people getting killed every day and the girls schools are being attacked continuously in different provinces in addition to the presence of the [indistinct words] for the past few months. I would like to know that, as the leader of the country and based on your experience for the past two years, what would be the best possible solution to overcome the current problems?

Hamid Karzai:
Well a very good question. This is something that has bothered all of us - the Afghan people - you, me and other Afghans, to see that we are still being attacked, to see that our country is still being violated by terrorism, by extremism, burning girls schools, killing people working on the highways, killing people working for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. I don't know if these people committing these crimes are actually Afghans. I tend to believe very strongly of my experience that much of that comes from outside of Afghanistan. We know examples of this and if you remember, if you were around Afghanistan, if you're in Europe, you must have heard one of my speeches a few weeks ago in a mosque in which I addressed some of the Pakistani individuals who are calling themselves clergy, Olamah, and I gave examples of how some of them were sending young Afghan men - preaching to them - giving them a little money to go and kill road workers. Now this is a problem that Afghanistan has to handle in an international manner, we have to have the help from the United States and the rest of Europe, we have to have help from Pakistan - I've spoken with Pakistani President Musharraf about this and we have had promises. I'm waiting for results on this. I don't see this as an internal problem, ma'am, my sister, I see this as an external problem. There are other problems as well, internal difficulties with warlords and gangs, they're also bothering the Afghan people, Afghan lives, that too is another concern that we have and we are taking steps, they are painful steps, they require time and patience and that we should have.

Lyce Doucet:
Rosa are you satisfied with the President's response, his approach?

Rosa Yari:
Yes, thank you.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you very much for joining us. We're going to take a caller now from Canada, from Toronto, Paul Connor joins us, Paul Connor go ahead.

Paul Connor:
Yes thank you. Mr President it seems that your government is going to have some difficulty getting past the objection of the citizens in your country to their armed regional peace and I'm wondering how your government intends to secure countrywide legitimacy after the troops of Canada and NATO go home?

Hamid Karzai:
We think that the international community should stay with Afghanistan till the day that Afghanistan stands on its own feet, till the day that Afghanistan develops its own security institutions - the army, the police, the judiciary. Till the day that Afghanistan begins to be able to protect its own borders, to provide security for its citizens. It will take some time. Till then the international community I hope will stay with us, should stay with us, for the interest of Afghanistan and the wider world. There is no short cut there, there is no other answer there, the international community should stay with us and together we should make life better for the Afghan people and by consequence for the rest of the world.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you Paul Connor. If I could ask you, you were just in Canada, did the leadership of Canada say they will stay with Afghanistan, the troops will remain there?

Hamid Karzai:
The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Chretien, told me in clear words that Canada will stay for 12 months.

Lyce Doucet:
And you asked for them to stay longer?

Hamid Karzai:
Yes I did and beyond 12 months they would give it consideration, hopefully positive consideration. I am having better hopes now for that.

Lyce Doucet:
You're getting lots of promises but you have to wait and see whether they're going to fill them.

Hamid Karzai:
Well we'll keep asking.

Lyce Doucet:
Well someone else wants to ask you a question. We're joined now from El Salvador by Roberto Evenes [phon.], Roberto what's your question?

Roberto Ibanez:
My question is are the Afghan people ready to live without the American army?

Hamid Karzai:
The Afghans are very much ready to live without the American army, without all other armies that are now helping Afghanistan. There are over 40 countries helping in Afghanistan, 29 with the International Security Assistance Force and lots of other countries in the form of the coalition against terrorism. But the question is can we afford to live without them? No we cannot afford to live without them right now. And when the time comes for us to stand on our own feet we'll be very happy to protect our country and our citizens with our own institutions.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you Roberto. We're going to go north again on to the United States and we're joined by Erik Cooke in Washington DC, Eric go ahead.

Erik Cooke:
Good afternoon Mr President. Do you feel that you have enough support in particular from the US government for you to exercise control over the entire country?

Hamid Karzai:
I have support enough from the US government and if I feel that the support is not enough I will speak about it, I will tell President Bush and I will talk about it. But at this point the support is good enough, I have the assurances. I just hope that Afghanistan will receive a lot more in reconstruction assistance which is vital for our economy to begin to live off its own development.

Lyce Doucet:
And Erik do you believe that the people of the United States still worry about Afghanistan, still care about it?

Erik Cooke:
Well I think that's why I asked the question because in our media today it seems as though we're focused so much on Iraq and we have no indication from - it seems to me from the Afghanistani people as to whether or not they feel that they're getting enough of the pie, whether we've committed enough resources to them.

Hamid Karzai:
Well there has been the commitment of resources. President Bush announced a few days ago in New York in the UN $1.2 billion for Afghanistan. If you're asking me if I'm satisfied with that I would say yes, we are grateful that the world is helping us. But if you ask me if I need more, I will say, yes I need more, the country needs more. And as far as the media is concerned it doesn't focus on Afghanistan now as much as it does on Iraq because Afghanistan is a relatively successful case, there is a political process going on there, there isn't a crisis that would warrant media's stronger attention. I hope they did focus more on the achievements in Afghanistan and highlighted that to the people of the United States for them to learn off it and to provide more assistance and attention. They've been kind to us already.

Lyce Doucet:
You're being very diplomatic President Karzai. It doesn't make you angry that of the $87 billion that President Bush has asked for only $1.2 billion goes for aid to Afghanistan? In Afghanistan and Iraq there are the same number of people but Afghanistan is getting 10% of what Iraq is getting.

Hamid Karzai:
Well I mentioned earlier if I get more money for reconstruction I'll be happy.

Lyce Doucet:
But do you warn the United States, other Western governments that there's a consequence - did you give those warnings?

Hamid Karzai:
Yes.

Lyce Doucet:
And they responded positively.

Hamid Karzai:
Yes, we will push them.

Lyce Doucet: Well some of the other issues that people have been calling us and e-mailing us about is about relations with your neighbours and you talk about this a lot. Swapnil in India says: Mr President are you serious about a long term relationship with your ancient neighbour India? And there are many questions about Pakistan. Hamid Khan in Islamabad said: Mr Karzai why are you making Pakistan a scapegoat for your incompetence regarding the law and order situation in Afghanistan?

Hamid Karzai:
With regard to the question on India, India is a neighbour of Afghanistan, India has been helping us, we would definitely want India to have good relations with Afghanistan, Afghanistan want to have good relations with India, lots of trade relations and it's welcome, definitely we'll do that. With regard to Pakistan, Pakistan is a country that has given refuge to us for so many years for millions of our people and that refuge has been very warmly, very brotherly, very sisterly - for which we will be grateful eternally, there's no second word there, we're very grateful to Pakistan for what they have done for us. With regard to terrorism and extremism, Mr Hamid Khan should know that really that thing should not arise in Afghanistan, it came during the years of our fight against the Soviets and it came from Pakistan with the Taleban and al-Qaeda and all that, they had access to Afghanistan through that territory. We're not trying to blame Pakistan, we're just asking our brothers there in Pakistan, the government there, to help us resolve this thing for the good of all of us. And as far as the competence of the Afghan government is concerned, it's the government that has taken power after 30 years of destruction and war, after having no army, no police, nothing, and what we have done, as a matter of fact surprises me that we have done what we have done.

Lyce Doucet:
Well let's go back to the issue of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan because we have JB who's on the line from Karachi in Pakistan. Mr B what would you like to ask about?

JB:
Good evening Mr President. My question is to you that you claim that you have good relations with Islamabad but here we believe that there is an exchange of fire between part of one [indistinct] forces after every few days. [Indistinct] you recently have said that you and your minister have several times claimed that Pakistan is still backing Taleban forces. Do you think that these are the sign of good relations? Thank you.

Hamid Karzai:
Well we have brotherly relations, we cannot do without each other, the two countries depend on each other, strongly, there's a very strong interdependence between the two countries. By reasons of history, by reasons of ethnicity, by reasons of relationships from the past 30 years. There are problems as well. The problems are the continuation of extremist activity, the continuation of terrorist activity in Afghanistan. We're not trying to blame the Pakistani people, they are not to blame, they have nothing to do with it, they have all the good will for Afghanistan and they showed it when we were there as refugees - millions of us - we have only kindness for the people of Pakistan, only generosity from the people of Pakistan. When we say enemies we mean a few people, probably 40 or 50 people, who have agendas that are against Pakistan as well, that are against the people of Pakistan as well.

Lyce Doucet:
Who do you blame then if it's not the people, who do you hold responsible then?

Hamid Karzai:
Enemies, part of the political party structures there .

Lyce Doucet:
Politicians . is it military intelligence, is it the government?

Hamid Karzai:
All those elements who benefit from association with extremists. And then other people.

Lyce Doucet:
Thank you for joining us from Karachi. Now you mentioned in your speech to the UN General Assembly about your concern about the religious schools in Pakistan and you actually said that you felt that Pakistan was responsible for the rise of Talebanism and you brought that up with George W. Bush, what will be done, you've talked about this for months?

Hamid Karzai: I want action there.

Lyce Doucet:
What have you asked for specifically?

Hamid Karzai:
Action.

Lyce Doucet:
You want the . closed down.

Hamid Karzai:
Military action, close them down, take them out and let Afghanistan live in peace.

Lyce Doucet:
Pakistan says that the United States says it's happy with what Pakistan is doing, it doesn't hold the Pakistan government responsible, is that what you heard?

Hamid Karzai:
We would like to have more from our brotherly government in Pakistan.

Lyce Doucet:
Such as?

Hamid Karzai:
Such as curbing extremist violence of Afghan territory, cross border activities, people coming to our country and hurting. That must stop. And preaching against Afghanistan in places disguised as madrasa must stop. Training in those places disguised as madrasas must stop. People disguising themselves as preachers must be arrested and stopped from trying to train young innocent Afghans and giving them money, using their poverty, their vulnerability, to turn them into enemies against our country.

Lyce Doucet:
Do you have a commitment from Islamabad, a recognition, do they agree with you and they will do something about it?

Hamid Karzai:
I have spoken with President Musharraf, I'm waiting for results and I will speak to them again.

Lyce Doucet:
Do you fear that this resurgence of the Taleban is such that it could actually reverse whatever has been achieved over the past two years?

Hamid Karzai:
No, no, no, no. The people of Afghanistan are strongly for a better life, they cannot allow the life of the Afghan people to go back to that trade of extreme suffering, no way, we will not allow that.

Lyce Doucet:
Well I'm sure the Afghans listening and watching this programme will certainly agree with that. And I'm afraid that that's all the time we have for today. Our special guest thanks to you President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and our thanks to everyone who's taken part in the programme either through e-mails or telephone calls. Don't forget you can keep sending us your e-mails to talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk. You can also visit our website on Islam in the West at www.bbcnews.com/islam. And you can watch or listen to this programme. Our guest on Talking Point next week is the Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. But for now from this edition with Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the British Labour Party Conference here in Bournemouth in England, from me, Lyce Doucet, and the rest of the team goodbye.





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