Charismatic, charming, stylish, Hamid Karzai is all who is cherished and admired by many, politicians, friends, critics, observers, International personalities, and even fashion gurus.
Well known for his personal morality, Karzai is very audacious man, with his skillful diplomatic skills he had been able to balance countries like U.S. and Iran, Europe, China and India. After decades of war he was able bring substantial reforms in Afghanistan that it has ever seen in the history.
Under his leadership, the war torn Afghanistan was transformed to greater extent. New constitution was drafted, legislations passed, democracy took its root in the country, human rights conventions were signed. Progress in health, education, and infrastructure in Afghanistan were remarkable achievements.
Being a leader in the most dangerous part of the world he had to face many challenges both internal and external. From outside he needed an American and international support while internally he had to convince his countrymen that he is nobody’s puppet. He came to power with remarkable ideas of how to put the new-western backed country on the path towards democracy, rule of law and progress. His diplomacy was a major success where donor countries were bring together for working for a prosperous Afghanistan.
With different countries conflicting interests in Afghanistan, Karzai faced enormous challenges between different powers. He was able to balance the U.S. and Iran, Pakistan and India, China, Russia, Europe and so on with different interests in Afghanistan. He was successful in keeping them work together including neighbors, Europe and the Muslim world with diverse policies approaches and interests in the country. In Tokyo, a few hastily learnt words of Japanese and his statements regarding Afghanistan’s giant Buddhist statues, earned him praise from politicians as “a philosopher king.”
Fascinated by life and ideas of nonviolent liberation he considers “Gandhi” as his role model. Hamid Karzai clearly abhors violence. He revere Ghaffar Khan known as the “Frontier Gandhi”, the non-violent Pashtun leader who mobilized a pacific movement known as the Red Shirts against the then British and Pakistan.
Karzai is considered as an extraordinary men who did bring hope and ambition among many Afghans which has suffered from three decade of war, during tumultuous time in History of Afghanistan. He held leadership qualities, had strong view for the country and held exceptional qualities of brining various warring parties together on one table. “He applauds himself for his big-tent, forgive-and-forget approach.”
His leadership style was a mixture including tribal (as he was groomed and had came from tribal culture), factional politics (which he experienced during resistance period in Peshawar), and the third is democracy (which he cherishes and values).
After all he was able bring on the table the warring tribes, warlords to lay down their arms. He was surrounded by the warlords during his rule, even once he threatened to resign if the warlords who were hogging all the custom revenue didn’t turn the customs revenue to the central government. He accommodated Jihadis, communists, technocrats, the so-called dog-washers, war criminals and even some Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami. All had a place under Karzai big umbrella.
He stood against its major ally (the United States), despite pressures from various sides he didn’t budge from his position until his conditions of initiating peace negotiations with the Taliban and ending attacks on civilians and their homes are not met.
Why Karzai has denied so far signing the BSA with the United States? Is a question raised both inside the country and abroad. President Karzai perhaps wants to be remembered as a patriot Afghan leader rather than a foreign puppet. His egoistic nature compels him to leave a name in the history of a figure that thought and worked for the greater interest of his people, by standing against and not allowing a major power like the United States to raid their houses or reach an agreement with them without the condition of bringing peace.
Secondly his major concern probably is regarding political settlement with Taliban for which he has been pushing from 2007. His fear perhaps is that after the April poll when a new president come in power and in case he is not assured of this lukewarm political settlement, which experienced plethora of problems and major setbacks during the past few years, there will be another chaos in the country, where the fire and fight will continue for unpredictable time in the future.
According to him, if he signs the BSA and peace is not brought to the country, who will be blamed by history; off course he will be blamed for it. He stated that “we want the security agreement with the condition of peace, it must bring peace to the country, i know that America can bring peace to Afghanistan if they truly want.”
Thirdly he doesn’t want any foreign interference or any hijacking of the current polls in Afghanistan like according to him it happened in the past (2009). He want make sure that the elections are held in a more transparent way. His decision not to put his name to the BSA springs from a desire to burnish a nationalistic legacy rather than drift into a lame-duck presidency.
He has been the center of gravity. Personality based power politics is on the boom in Afghanistan. He has evolved into a savvy and sophisticated politician, and has emerged as a stronger player in Afghan politics.
He is a leader who is determined for leaving a legacy in the history of Afghanistan of peaceful transfer of power through democratic process. For 100 years, from the death of Amir Abdul Rahman in 1901 till 2001 when Karzai came to power, every single Afghan leader has either been assassinated or driver from office.
Since 1700, 25 of 29 rulers of Afghanistan have been deposed, exiled, imprisoned, or assassinated. There has always been bloodshed and crisis over the leadership question. However he for the first time in the history of Afghanistan will be the leader who will handover presidency to the forthcoming president in a peaceful democratic way. he is the person who has assumed the persona of the ‘founding father’ of the new Afghanistan.
Being in power from more than decade and dealing with the major countries in the most difficult job and dealing with complicated and controversial issues he has earned reputation of a smart politician who knows the alphabet of almost each country’s politics. He is still in his political prime and has said that he wont stop speaking out in Afghanistan’s interest. Both the front-runner in the ongoing election have stated that they want him on their team.
Mr. Ahmad Shah Katawazai is a Diplomat in the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington D.C. and permanent member of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan.