Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan’s interim government
wasn’t even in Bonn when he was selected to head the post-Taliban
administration. He was in southern Afghanistan, preparing
for the final push on the city of Kandahar.
comes from the dominant Pashtun tribe, and from the same
clan of the former Afghan king
Zahir Shah. For a brief time
in the early 1990s he supported the Taliban, which had taken
over when the holy warriors of the mujahedeen ended the
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. That was when he regarded
the Taliban as Pashtun, like himself.
quickly became suspicious of the Taliban, not pleased with
how it had been infiltrated by foreign elements such as
Pakistani, Arab, and Chechen extremists. Seven years later,
in 1999, the Taliban assassinated Karzai’s father, Abdul
Ahad Karzai, once a parliamentary deputy in the Afghan
government. The young Karzai and his father had campaigned
against the Taliban, operating from a base in Quetta, just
across the border in Pakistan.
then devoted himself to the campaign against the Taliban,
determined to follow his father’s wishes that a
multi-ethnic, broad-based government rule Afghanistan,
starting with the convening of a grand tribal assembly known
as a loya jirga.
He is tall, bald, with a carefully
trimmed beard and moustache. He comfortably wears
well-tailored suits and ties and often displays a quick and
clever sense of humor.
is good at keeping a cool head in extreme circumstances. He
describes himself as "a politician, not a
fighter." Educated partly in India, he speaks English
fluently, as well as six other languages. Over his Afghan
tunic he often wears a double-breasted blazer. After two
sessions with the Taliban commanders, he secured the
surrender of Kandahar, a city Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed
his fighters would defend to the death.
to Afghanland.com sources, Karzai
has six brothers and one sister have built successful
careers in business or academia in the U.S. Two
Maryland-based brothers own Afghan restaurants in Boston,
San Francisco and Baltimore Maryland owned by Pat and Qayum
Karzai. All three restaurants are named Helmand, after the
province just west of Kandahar. Though he has visited the
U.S. several times, on occasion meeting with high-ranking
cia, State Department and other government officials, Karzai
has remained mostly in Afghanistan or in exile in Pakistan,
embroiled in the tortured politics of his homeland.
most Afghan men, who marry in their early 20s, Karzai
remained a bachelor 1999. Having a wife was not a priority
to him, He was only dedicated to Afghanistan.Family members
say it was the final illness of his mother, who had
expressed the wish to see him settled before she died, that
led Karzai to marry at last, in January 1999. His wife Zinat
is an obstetrician-gynecologist active in assisting refugees
the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Karzai fled to
Pakistan, where he built supply lines between anti-Soviet
Afghan guerrillas and American backers. When the mujahedin
took power in 1992, he returned to serve for two years as
Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of President
Burhanuddin Rabbani. Disillusionment with the infighting of
that regime led him to switch over, briefly, to the Taliban,
which once tried to make him its U.N. ambassador, a post he
declined. But Karzai, an Islamic moderate, soon turned
against the Taliban's stringencies, especially its brutal
restrictions on women, and returned to Pakistan. Former U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth, a friend of
Karzai's, says that after the murder of his father, Karzai
approached Washington with plans for leading resistance to
the Taliban. "It did seem like a mission
impossible," says Inderfurth, "because he'd be
putting himself at great risk."
has never shied from risks. On Oct. 7 he slipped inside
southern Afghanistan, heading first to his ancestral village
of Karz, near Kandahar. From there he set off to the
mountains of Oruzgan province, recruiting tribal elders to
join an anti-Taliban coalition. It was not long before the
Taliban got on his trail. He escaped ambush and certain
death by calling in U.S. forces to rescue him by helicopter.
The U.S. says it whisked him out of the country; he insists
he never left--perhaps concerned about being seen as too
close to the U.S. Since then, Karzai has been back in the
mountains, while his Pashtun recruitment drive has picked up
speed as one Taliban city after another has fallen to the
secured the peaceful fall of Kandahar, Karzai is headed up
to the capital, Kabul. When he formally took charge on Dec.
22 2001 he will find his 30-member Cabinet assailed by
regional warlords who were elbowed out in Bonn.
One notable element of
Karzai's Cabinet is that it will include two women. Suhaila
Seddiqi, a doctor in Kabul, will be the Minister of Public
Health. Sima Samar, who works with a nongovernmental
organization in Quetta, will be Minister of Women's Affairs,
as well as one of Karzai's five deputies.
considered a moderate Muslim. In the campaign against the
Taliban, he commanded 4,000 Northern Alliance fighters,
mostly in southern Afghanistan, in the push on Kandahar.
Tom Ford designer of famed
GUCCI line named Karzai ``The chicest man on the planet
today (1/16/2002) is the new president of Afghanistan, whose
look is very elegant and very proud,'' Ford said after
showing his fall-winter 2002-03 collection for Gucci during
Milan's men swear shows.
the time a United Nations-sponsored conference met to set up
an interim government for Afghanistan, he had strong
American backing and was clearly being groomed for
At the end of that conference
in December, he was elected leader of Afghanistan's
six-month interim government.
Well educated, Westernized
and stylish, Mr. Karzai has been feted by foreign
governments on his frequent trips abroad and has proved a
shrewd and charismatic statesman.
He has also managed to build
up considerable support at home, partly a tribute to his
diplomatic skills, but also because many ordinary Afghans
are disillusioned with existing leaders and warlords.
As far as they are concerned,
one of the major points in his favor is that he was not
involved in the bloodletting in Afghanistan during the early
1990s. However, that also means he has no armed forces of
his own in a country famous for fractious warlords.
But the political
horse-trading ahead of the loya jirga may have tarnished his
image with some Afghans. There is a perception that he has
entered into political deals with Afghanistan's warlords.
Thus far he is the best candidate to steer Afghanistan
towards a better future and he means well and it truly a
Mr Hamid Karzai, President of
Transitional Islamic state of Afghanistan, revived the
memories of the days he spent in the Queen of Hills as a
student where he recieved the honorary degree of Doctor of
Literature from Dr Suraj Bhan, the Chancellor of the
Himachal Pradesh University.
“I know Shimla more than
anyone of you. I am familiar with every street every
building and had explored its every nook and corner”, he
said. “It was drizzling when I landed at the local railway
station alongwith my cousin we walked through the road
passing through a thick forest. The landscape fascinated me
so much that I decided to join the local S.D.B. degree
college to pursue his gradation.”
He said it was in Shimla that
he got into habit of walking. His long walks, initially from
the guest house to the college, continued even after he
shifted the YMCA in the heart of the city.
According to a PTI report
Karzai arrived here by an IAF helicopter and was received at
the Annandale Helipad by the Governor, Dr Suraj Bhan, the
Chief Minister, V.B. Singh, Cabinet Ministers Vidya Stokes,
Kaul Singh and Kuldeep Kumar and Chief Secretary Rajinder
In 2004 Elections Karzai was
elected the first President of Afghanistan by a nation wide
poll. He defeated his closest rival Yunos Qanooni by over