Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the U.S. Thursday for not fighting insurgents in their “safe havens,” implying that insurgent activity in neighboring Pakistan remains unchecked.
“NATO and Afghanistan should fight this war where terrorism stems from,” Karzai was quoted as saying by the New York Times in a news conference in Kabul.
“But the United States is not ready to go and fight the terrorists there. This shows a double game. They say one thing and do something else,” he said. “If this war is against insurgency, then it is an Afghan and internal issue, then why are you here? Let us take care of it.”
“But if you are here to fight terrorism, then you should go to where their safe havens are and where terrorism is financed and manufactured,” he said.
Karzai denied suggestions by some western analysts and the Afghan opposition that he intended to stay in power by thwarting the presidential election set for 2014.
“Any election, with whatever flaws, is better than an illegitimate government,” he said. “Therefore, elections will be held definitely, 100 percent and on time.”
He also criticized the western media of engaging in “psychological warfare” with gloomy predictions about Afghanistan’s future once the U.S.-led coalition troops withdraw in 2014.
"This is a psychological war by the Western media against Afghanistan: once the foreign troops pull out, Afghanistan will be poor, there will be civil war and the Taliban will return, etc.," Karzai said.
He said he had raised the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama at a recent video conference and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his visit to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
"I believe if the objective is to influence future agreements on the number of US military bases, the presence of U.S. troops beyond 2014 -- it can't achieve this through psychological war," he said.
Though Karzai singled out the New York Times, BBC and CNN for a negative outlook on Afghanistan, he added that the local media, television, radios and analysts were also predicting civil war in Afghanistan once the foreign troops pulled out.
In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level debate Sept. 25, Karzai touched on a number of similar points.
He noted that terrorism was not and never was rooted in Afghan villages and towns, and has originated outside of the country’s borders.
“Therefore, while the international community's security is being safeguarded from the threat of terrorism, the people of Afghanistan must no longer be made to pay the price and endure the brunt of the war,” he said.
“It is in deference to the immense sacrifices of the Afghan people, and the precious lives lost from the international community, that the campaign against terrorism must be taken to the sources of terrorism and must be result-oriented.”
The president voiced Afghanistan’s commitment to “brotherly relations” with Pakistan, but added that Kabul was “aware of the challenges that may strain our efforts at building trust and confidence.”
He said his government had initiated a peace and reconciliation process to bring all elements of the country’s armed opposition into the society. He added that the government’s “hand of peace and reconciliation” remains extended not only to the Taliban, but also to all other armed opposition groups that wish to return to “dignified, peaceful and independent lives in their own homeland.”
To facilitate the peace process, he had urged the U.N. Security Council to “take more active measures towards delisting of Taliban leaders” from its 1988 Taliban’s Sanctions Committee.