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An isolated president: Karzai’s future


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AS the clock winds down on his presidency and the Karzai era, the Afghan president’s outbursts are becoming increasingly desperate. To be sure, given the complex role Pakistan has played in Afghanistan over the decades, there is some room for legitimate criticism of Islamabad by the Afghan government. But legitimate criticism has given way to an alarming spiral of allegations and irresponsible behaviour on the part of Mr Karzai. It is helpful to trace the trajectory of the Afghan president’s approach towards the Taliban over the past decade. Until the late 2000s, Mr Karzai was an implacable opponent of reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban, treating them as interchangeable with Al Qaeda and unworthy of being seen as a political force. Then, as the insurgency worsened and the US commitment to Afghanistan seemed to ebb, Mr Karzai appeared to change his mind, pushing for reconciliation, though wanting it to flow through his office — something the Taliban, perennially dismissive of the Karzai-led Afghan government, were not willing to countenance. Now, bizarrely, Mr Karzai has called on the Taliban to fight external enemies — presumably Pakistan — instead of destroying their own country.

Erratic as the Afghan president’s comments on Pakistan and the US have become in recent times and imminent as his irrelevance may be, there are two important aspects to Mr Karzai’s departure that will have to be handled with extreme care. First, the post-presidency future of Mr Karzai, both in terms of his physical security and finding some kind of sinecure or retired statesman role for him to keep him preoccupied. The history of the exit of Afghan leaders can only be disturbing for Mr Karzai and he will need some kind of reassurance about his physical safety while also having a public platform if he chooses to stay back in Afghanistan as he has repeatedly promised he will. It may appear odd that the future of one man, especially one on his way out and seemingly an irritant to all sides, can require so much delicate handling, but given his position and the office he leads, a botched exit plan can have significant negative ramifications.

The second aspect of Mr Karzai’s departure that will have to be managed carefully is the reconciliation process with the Afghan Taliban. With the Pakistani establishment and the US government seemingly converging on what needs to be done next and a critical phase in reconciliation lying ahead in the next year or so, Mr Karzai will need to be counselled to exhibit restraint — something he has not done in recent months.

Comments (18) Closed

Mohammad Farooq May 07, 2013 12:28am
His rant is in desperation as he knows he has no future role in Afghanistan once the big daddy is gone.
Akil Akhtar May 07, 2013 12:05am
Yes you are right if Pakistan had not helped them it would still be under Russian occupation and the population turned into communists.
Akil Akhtar May 07, 2013 12:07am
obviously he has been working for them any way
Akil Akhtar May 07, 2013 12:06am
include the indian troll as well who pose as Pakistanis or afghanis.
Khan May 07, 2013 03:45am
You should have commented when 5 million Afghans entered Pakistan during Soviet Invasion and India supported the Soviet Aggression, hosting Afghans was also not our business for the last 30 years right?
KKhan May 06, 2013 05:45am
Karzai has spoken against the meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Pakistan considers that it has God given right to interfere in Afghanistan affairs. An attack on Karzai in future will be the most fatal event for Pakistan. If not convinced, wait and watch the future.
Gopal Patel May 06, 2013 05:46am
My guess is that soon after the Americans leave, Mr Karzai will seek asylum in India or USA.
safi May 06, 2013 09:59am
Pakistan has not been sincere with Afghanistan and has always tried to sabotage the reconciliation process with Taliban by any means.
Tojo May 06, 2013 05:06pm
Afghan Government needs to exercise great diplomacy when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. Accusations back & forth are definitely not going to help Afghanistan get out of its trouble. Many Pakistani Talibans and host of other brothers sacrificed their lives to free Afghans from the tyranny of the Soviet Union. It was not India. This must not be forgotten on the People of Afghanistan. Accept the reality & work towards peace & harmony. No foreigners can survive in that Region.
naseem May 06, 2013 04:26pm
Most probally US, he took asylum in Pakistan the first time. He is not welcome in Pakistan anymore and neither the afghan refugees. Would you like to have them.
Imtiaz Bhutto May 06, 2013 11:51am
Brilliant analysis. I hope the Afghani trolls on this website have the stomach to digest the truth dished out in this article.
Aqil Siddiqi May 06, 2013 04:18pm
Hahahahahaha. Pakistan is not sincere with Afghanistan. Seriously. Do you people lives in this planet or just droppped from some Alien Nation. Since the days of Jimmi Carter in 1980's, who have been helping you.
Aqil Siddiqi May 06, 2013 04:08pm
Do you really know, what you are talking about. If not for Pakistan help during Russian Invasion, you think, you would have surrvived??????? Stop living in stone age and use some sense. Your refugees in Pakistan, is the main reason, why we have so many problems since 1980.
Aqil Siddiqi May 06, 2013 04:12pm
It is my experience, that these people are very very selfish and unappreciative of anything you do for them. They will always blame Pakistan for every that has gone wrong in thier country. In all our wars against India, how many times, they have sided with Pakistan??????? But, they should not forget, what goes around, comes around.
naseem May 06, 2013 04:04pm
Every nation in this world works for its own interest so whats wrong with Pakistan doing it. What interest does India have in Afghanistan, if not to harm Pakistan?
raika45 May 06, 2013 12:50pm
Pakistan should not forget that it sent in the mujaheddin fighters into Afghanistan during your Zia era to fight the Russians under American influence.Practically the same for the taliban that were sent after the mujaheddin later on The onus of this lies heavily on Pakistan no matter what the ideology was then.This mess in Afghanistan would not have occurred if you had if you had minded your own business then.Blaming Karzai now does not make any difference.
G.A. May 06, 2013 01:07pm
With 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan for 30 years, Pakistan has the right to ensure that Afghanistan is stable and friendly so these people can be repatriated.
Mushtaq May 06, 2013 01:23pm
You are wrong. Pakistan is not sincere with Pakistan or it would help dying people in Pakistan instead of collecting the ruins in Afghanistan.