“How to fight terrorism at the international level, why the Doha peace talks with the Taliban have been cancelled and Moscow’s role in the inter-Afghan dialogue” are questions that Karzai, the ex-Afghanistan president, has answered in his exclusive interview with Sputnik news agency.
Q: Today, terrorism has become a global problem. In your view, what is the most effective way of dealing with it at the international level?
Hamid Karzai: The most effective way to fight terrorism, given the experience of our country, is the cooperation of major powers. The United States, some of its European and Eastern allies must be honest in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism is a tool that some use. Therefore, it’s necessary to make them stop doing this; and this is impossible without extensive and honest cooperation.
Q: What do you mean by “honest cooperation”, especially, as you have noted, the US’s “honest cooperation”?
Hamid Karzai: This means that no one should use terrorism as a tool. We’re seeing this in Afghanistan. Extremism and terrorism have become tools in Afghanistan. At the beginning of our jihad against the former USSR, the Americans and their associates purposefully engaged in cultivating extremism, directing it against the former Soviet Union.
The Afghan people are now reaping the fruits of it. Pakistan was doing the same thing. I don’t want to point the finger and blame anyone; I just want to say that this problem isn’t going to be solved as long as terrorism and extremism are used as a tool. I have high hopes that today, when the whole world is confronted by the issue of terrorism, the United States and its allies will cooperate with major powers, such as Russia, India, and Pakistan, in their anti-terrorism activities.
Q: In April, the Second intra-Afghan dialogue was to be held in Doha. It’s been reported that the meeting didn’t take place because the Taliban rejected the list of delegates from the Afghan government. At the same time, the meeting that was organized this February in Moscow was large in scale and successful. In your opinion, why?
Hamid Karzai: Why was the intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow nice and easy, and why was the Doha meeting cancelled? This is an important question. The Moscow meeting was organized in 15 days. Many Afghans from Afghanistan and other parts of the world took part in it; the Taliban also arrived there. The intra-Afghan dialogue [in Moscow] was very successful, while there had been two months to organize the meeting in Doha, the meeting that the Afghan people wanted so much, the meeting that took so much effort [to organize], didn’t take place. Whatever the reason, we look forward to an early meeting in Doha.
Sputnik: Can foreign states somehow contribute to the next intra-Afghan dialogue? Maybe, since Doha didn’t work, you should choose another site?
Hamid Karzai: Of course, the countries concerned (about establishing peace in Afghanistan) must take every measure and use all means necessary. Apart from the intra-Afghan dialogue, there is no other means for progress. Establishing peace and security in our country is impossible without the participation of major world powers and the intra-Afghan dialogue. These two processes must run in parallel — a dialogue between Afghans on the one hand and an agreement between foreign states on the future of Afghanistan on the other, this is especially true of our neighbours, Pakistan and Iran.
A month ago, negotiations were held in Washington between the special representatives of the United States, China, Russia, and the European powers. Consultations between the special representatives of Russia, the USA, and China should take place in Moscow in the coming days. We hope this will create a good basis for our neighbours that we have deep and broad relations with, for example Pakistan and Iran, to join in this process.
Q: Loya Jirga [the all-Afghan Council of Elders (representatives), infrequently elected from among ethnic and tribal groups to deal with crisis situations] should be held in Kabul in a few days. A number of statesmen, as well as political parties, have criticised the meeting, calling it politically biased. The Taliban, which are an integral part of the peace process, also ignore the council. In this context, how legitimate is such a Loya Jirga?
Hamid Karzai: Loya Jirga is one of the fundamental and most important national instruments. When I was president, we convened it on critical issues. Two years ago, I suggested to President Ashraf Ghani that we should hold a Loya Jirga in order to mitigate the developing crisis in the country, and that we should search for the causes of that crisis together. The Loya Jirga wasn’t convened then, and today our government is convening a council. Loya Jirga must be represented by the people of Afghanistan.
If the purpose of the council is to establish peace and stability in the country, I will support it. However, if Loya Jirga is nominal and is used for any other purposes, it should be perceived as evil, since you cannot exploit the name of our national assembly. In Kabul, I will hold a series of meetings regarding Loya Jirga; and we hope that it’s convened for the good. However, to date, it seems different — the closest associates of the current government, Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the executive branch, as well as some other prominent political figures have refused to participate in it. And the council should be held with full consent and unanimity.
Q: What implications will this Loya Jirga have for the peace process?
Hamid Karzai: This Loya Jirga should have been held six months ago, when the Americans started making efforts in the peace process. We are now in the middle of the road. Many, and myself included, doubt whether this council will lead to any progress or to a delay in realizing peace. It would be better if the Loya Jirga is convened after the Doha intra-Afghan dialogue, when decisions that can be discussed at the Loya Jirga have been made. There is a danger that this Loya Jirga may interfere with the peace process.
Q: What measures need to be taken to ensure that funds allocated by donor countries to Afghanistan are spent rationally and in accordance with special-purpose items? Is there a need to create some kind of supervisory body over the distribution and expenditure of funds, or is there a need to modify the work of already existing bodies?
Hamid Karzai: Of course, a mechanism is needed, but it will be possible to create [such a mechanism] only when peace and security prevail in Afghanistan. It is impossible now. But the countries that allocate funds to Afghanistan should do it honestly. There shouldn’t be such situations where a state allocates funds to Afghanistan, but the latter doesn’t get them.
Sputnik: Should the authorities overseeing the distribution and expenditure of cash receipts be local or foreign?
Hamid Karzai: The bodies that distribute and control the expenditure of incoming funds should certainly be local. Undoubtedly, donor countries have the right to know how their funds are spent, and what they are spent on.
Q: What measures should be taken to ensure that Afghanistan’s rich natural resources are mined properly and not plundered?
Hamid Karzai: [There should be] sound management, proper planning, and honest cooperation with foreign private companies. Again, we come back to the situation in the country. All this will be possible when there is peace and tranquility, when the government controls the entire territory of the country, when the authorities are able to control, investigate and properly exploit natural resources, when contracts with private firms are concluded. In times of war, it is impossible to exploit natural resources properly.