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— File photo
— File photo

WASHINGTON: Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview published on Sunday that he saw no good in America’s presence in Afghanistan.

The Afghan leader referred to the Taliban as his “brothers”, to the Americans as “rivals” and claimed that he had not spoken to US President Barack Obama since June.

The interview to The Sunday Times, London, was widely reproduced in the US where commentators pointed out that Mr Karzai was purposely distancing himself from Mr Obama as the Afghan leader’s 12-year reign comes to an end.

“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” he said, adding that he met Mr Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa but did not speak to him.

“Letters have been exchanged” though, he added.

Insisting that he “saw no good” in the American presence in Afghanistan, Mr Karzai said: “They did not work for me, they worked against me.”

Although the United States spent $648 billion during the Afghan war, Mr Karzai said it did not help him.

“The money they should have paid to the police they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery,” he said.

“They then began systematically waging psychological warfare on our people, encouraging our money to go out of our country.”

Mr Karzai also blamed the United States for creating “pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger” in Afghanistan.

Asked why he was refusing to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States, Mr Karzai said: “Under pressure, our kings signed things and all that turned out to be disastrous for Afghanistan. Under pressure today if I do the same I don’t know the consequences.”

Mr Karzai said he did not worry about the possibility that his refusal to sign the agreement could cause the US and other Western nations to reduce their financial assistance to Afghanistan.

“Money is not everything. If you ask me as an individual, I would rather live in poverty than uncertainty,” he said.

Mr Karzai praised Britain for trying to improve Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan.