AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you so much and welcome to our program.
KARZAI: Good to talk to you, Christiane Amanpour, very good to talk to you as always.
AMANPOUR: Thank you, sir. I wanted to ask you about the unfolding drama in your country. We've had this incredible bold attack by the Taliban and other militants.
Mr. President, how could this happen so many years into the war, so many years into having so many NATO forces, so many Afghan forces being stood up? How on Earth could this happen right now?
KARZAI: This is -- this is exactly the question the Afghan people are asking. This is exactly the question that the Afghan people have been asking now for some years.
This is indicative, ma'am, of a serious intelligence failure, especially an intelligence failure of our allies and NATO and others, because of the equipment that they have, because of the resources that they have, because of the time that they have spent in this part of the world. So this is indeed a very legitimate question and, indeed, one every Afghan household is asking.
AMANPOUR: So are you blaming NATO for this?
KARZAI: I'm not blaming NATO for this. I'm simply asking a question as to the efficiency of our intelligence gathering systems, whether these systems are working all right, whether, with all these resources available, I think by that happening in Kabul and in other parts of the country, whether everything is done correctly or whether everything is used correctly.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about hearts and minds? I mean, one way to win a war is by winning the hearts and minds. And it looks like that is in a bit of a crisis right now. Obviously, this terrible massacre by that American, Staff Sgt. Bales, has put a real -- a real crisis in terms of relations between ordinary Afghans and the United States.
Has the West lost the war in Afghanistan?
KARZAI: The West has been able to bring Afghanistan a much better health service, better education, better roads, a better economy, though some have benefited more; some have benefited less from that economic well-being in Afghanistan.
But as I have been saying for the -- for the last many years, the war on terrorism has not been conducted satisfactorily from the point of view of Afghanistan. The sanctuaries were not addressed, the training grounds were not addressed. And as I have been saying, the war on terrorism was not and is not in the Afghan villages or by causing harm to the Afghan people.
Therefore, on that account, there has been a failure in providing security to Afghanistan or in keeping the Afghan hearts and minds in a matter that would satisfy Afghans.
AMANPOUR: Is it your view that Staff Sgt. Bales should have been tried in Afghanistan? Is it still your view that that should have been the case?
KARZAI: The Afghan people did clearly demand that. The Afghan people did clearly want that. The Afghan people do clearly want a trial that is seen, that's transparent, that justice is done to those innocent women and children and men that were started (ph) and killed.
AMANPOUR: So should that have been in Afghanistan? Are you satisfied that it is going to take place in the United States?
KARZAI: Well, it isn't a matter of -- for us of satisfaction on any account. Once our people are killed, we can't be satisfied in any way. But other than that, in order to reduce the grievance that we have, a fair trial is necessary and the Afghan people are seeking it.
AMANPOUR: But, specifically, you must be pleased with this new agreement that Afghans will lead the so-called night raids? That is something you had wanted for years, whereby Americans go into the villages and try to find militants and get information about the Taliban. Now you're going to lead that.
KARZAI: Well, wanted this years ago. It came too late for us. But, still, we're happy that we have now signed an agreement and we hope that all parties will remain committed to the letter and spirit of this agreement.
AMANPOUR: You talk about how the U.S. has not fully won hearts and mind in Afghanistan, although, I must say, it is incredible to see certain percentages still supporting the international presence.
But there's a different story, as you know, here in the United States and around Western capitals. Your stock has plummeted. Where you were once the hero, standing ovations, freedom fighter, now people cannot wait to see the back of Afghanistan and get the heck out. Do you -- do you understand that? I mean, do you realize how you have lost the hearts and minds of the United States?
KARZAI: Yes, we understand that very well and we view it differently, though. We believe that there has been much lack of understanding of the Afghan situation, of the desire of the Afghan people, of the expectations of the Afghan people and that Afghanistan was not valued as it should have been valued by our allies in the past many years. I hope that recognition has come now.
Look, we are equal partners in the struggle against terrorism. Our country is being used. Our soil is being used. Our people are sacrificing their lives every day. We cannot be judged by the prism that you have in the West or in the United States.
AMANPOUR: You can imagine the kind of reaction it has after the, you know, spilling of so much blood, after the spending of so many hundreds of billions of dollars on Afghanistan, when Americans hear you, the president of Afghanistan, calling them demons, calling these shootings in that village, as catastrophic and appalling as they were, intentional terror.
What kind of effect do you think those words have for a nation that's basically been propping you up for all these years?
KARZAI: You're talking of the killing of people last month by --
KARZAI: -- that U.S. soldier?
KARZAI: Well, that was terrible. That was terrible, wasn't it?
AMANPOUR: Absolutely. But my question to you was -- and it was -- it was unconscionable, and we all, around the world, know that. My question is, when you called Americans demons after that, and called it intentional terror, did you mean that? Or was that the emotion of the moment?
KARZAI: Huh. Demons -- I have never used the word demon in the English language. The word "intentional terror," yes, I did use in the English language. It was my input into the statement that we made. This was intentional. When someone walks out of a military barrack and goes to kill villagers, that's intentional. And that's terrorism.
AMANPOUR: You mean individual, right? You don't mean that it was the U.S. doing that?
KARZAI: No. I didn't say the U.S. people. I said the individual. That individual committed terror, and of the most atrocious kind.
AMANPOUR: What should happen to him?
AMANPOUR: One of the issues that people look at a lot is the issue of democracy and progress in Afghanistan. You recently said that you might call for the next round of presidential elections to be moved up.
Can you assure your Western partners and the Afghan people that you will not seek another term as president, that you will abide by the constitution, which demands only two five-year terms, Mr. Karzai? I see you shaking your head already.
KARZAI: Well, well, I'm sure, Christiane, I will prove a lot of speculations wrong, as I have done in the past. So I like to -- I like to have a good country, a peaceful country, a respected country. And I like my children to be raised in this country. And that can only happen if we -- if we respect and remain committed to a way of life that we have adopted.
AMANPOUR: Absolutely. Will you step down?
KARZAI: Definitely. That's what the constitution of Afghanistan is asking. Even if the constitution allowed it, I wouldn't go ahead, because it's not right for one person to keep doing the job of the president for almost 12 years.
We need -- we need younger, fresher minds to come forward and do, in a perhaps more innovative way, things that we'll be doing so far and take the country forward. That's -- there's no question there. But whether the election should be in 2014 or 2013, the constitution says 2014.
But I've been thinking, with myself and some of my colleagues, that because of the heavy agenda of 2014, whether there will be a way forward for us, either in bringing the elections to 2013 or bringing the withdrawal of the international forces to 2013, that's something that I'm thinking about, I hope we'll find a way, or we can go and continue to have the election in 2014.
AMANPOUR: Got it. Let me just repeat it so that I'm completely satisfied that I heard you right. You are saying that, no matter what, no ifs, ands or buts, you will not stand for reelection, whether it's in 2013 or 2014?
KARZAI: Definitely not. I -- and I'm surprised when there is this question asked. I see a lot of Western politicians and media talking about the president, plotting to stay. No.
Afghanistan, ma'am, is inherently a democratic country. And I like to, as an Afghan, to prove that to myself and to the rest of the world, and leave a better legacy than continuing.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you've spoken quite eloquently about your vision for a -- for a better and more progressive future for your country. You have two children, you've just had another baby, and it's a girl, so congratulations to you.
KARZAI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Do you have a vision of a great future for your little girl and for other women and girls in Afghanistan, and do you worry that if the Taliban comes back in any form or fashion, whether it's a negotiated way or not, that it's going to be to the detriment of all the girls and women in Afghanistan again?
KARZAI: Christiane, the Taliban will not return to take power in Afghanistan. That is gone. That is done with. I wouldn't have told you this three years ago. But I can tell you this today, with confidence, that the Afghan people will not allow that.
Second, that if there is a peace process and a successful one, and as a result of that peace process the Taliban come back to participate in their own country and society, this has to be -- this has to be in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the Afghan people and the Afghan constitution.
And the Afghan people and the Afghan constitution have chartered their way forward into the future, where the Afghan woman will be equal partners with men in bringing this country to a better standard.
AMANPOUR: I hear what you're saying, and I understand about the constitution. But as you know, of course, the majority of the country, sadly, is still illiterate, despite the education gains. And as you also know, the Taliban, their interest was in having a basically anti-women Islamic caliphate.
What if some of these people come in and get government positions? Even if they say that they're going to abide by the constitution?
KARZAI: Even if they get government positions, that will not be the case. The country has changed, ma'am. It will be a great tragedy and misfortune for Afghanistan beyond imagination if that were to happen.
AMANPOUR: Agreed. On that note, Mr. Karzai, thank you so much for joining me.
KARZAI: Good to talk to you. All the best wishes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Karzai had a lot more to say about prospects of talks with the Taliban, and about how NATO might pursue the war on terror going forward. He made a lot of news, and I'll have the rest of our conversation on Friday, here on our program.
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