Hamid Karzai /ˈhæmɪd ˈkɑːrzaɪ/, (Pashto/Dari: حامد
کرزی, born 24 December 1957) is an
Afghan politician who was
the leader of
Afghanistan from 22 December 2001 to 29 September 2014,
originally as an interim leader and then as President for almost ten
years, from 7 December 2004 to 2014. He comes from a politically
active family; Karzai's father, uncle and grandfather were all active
Afghan politics and government. Karzai and his father before him,
Abdul Ahad Karzai, were each head of the
Popalzai tribe of the Durrani
In the 1980s Karzai was active as a fundraiser for the mujahideen who
were fighting to expel
Soviet Army troops during the Soviet-
(1979–1989). After the Soviet withdrawal, the Islamic State of
Afghanistan was established and then it was replaced in 1996 when the
Taliban came to power and established the Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan. In July 1999 Karzai's father was assassinated and Karzai
succeeded him as head of the
Popalzai tribe. In October 2001 the US
Afghanistan began and Karzai became a dominant political
figure after the removal of the
Taliban regime in late 2001. During
the December 2001 International Conference on
Afghanistan in Germany,
Karzai was selected by prominent
Afghan political figures to serve a
six-month term as Chairman of the
He was then chosen for a two-year term as
Interim President during the
2002 loya jirga
2002 loya jirga (grand assembly) that was held in Kabul, Afghanistan.
After the 2004 presidential election, Karzai was declared winner and
became President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He won a
second five-year term in the 2009 presidential election; this term
ended in September 2014.
1 Early life and beginning of political career
2 President and Chairman of a transitional administration
Afghan presidential election
4.1 First term (2004–2009)
4.2 2009 re-election and second term
4.3 Foreign relations
4.4 Assassination attempts
6 Personal life and tribal lineage
7 Honorary degrees and awards
8.1 Electoral fraud
8.2 Financial ties with
CIA and the government of Iran
9 See also
12 External links
Early life and beginning of political career
Karzai was born on 24 December 1957 in the Karz area of
in southern Afghanistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai
tribe. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, served as the Deputy Speaker of
the Parliament during the 1960s. His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan,
had fought in the 1919 Third Anglo-
Afghan War and was the Deputy
Speaker of the Senate. Karzai's family were strong supporters of Zahir
Shah, the last king of Afghanistan. His uncle, Habibullah Karzai,
served as the
Afghan representative at the UN and is said to have
accompanied King Zahir Shah in the early 1960s to the United States
for a special meeting with U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Hamid Karzai attended Mahmood Hotaki Primary School in
Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School in Kabul. He graduated from Habibia
High School in 1976. After graduating from high school, he traveled
India as an exchange student in 1976, and was accepted to study for
his master's degree in international relations and political science
from Himachal Pradesh University. He obtained his master's degree in
Karzai moved to neighboring Pakistan to work as a fundraiser for the
anti-communist mujahideen during the 1980s Soviet-
Afghan War. The
mujahideen were backed by the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi
Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces,
Hamid Karzai returned to
Afghanistan in early October 1988 to assist in the mujahideen victory
in Tarinkot. He assisted in rallying
Popalzai and other
to oust the regime from the city as well as helped negotiate the
defection of five hundred of Mohammad Najibullah's forces. When
Najibullah's Soviet-backed government collapsed in 1992, the Peshawar
Accords agreed upon by the
Afghan political parties established the
Islamic State of
Afghanistan and appointed an interim government to be
followed by general elections. Karzai accompanied the first mujahideen
Kabul after President Najibullah stepped down in
1992. He served as Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of
Burhanuddin Rabbani. Karzai was, however, arrested by Mohammad Fahim
(who would later become Karzai's Vice President) on charges of spying
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in what Karzai claimed was an effort to
mediate between Hekmatyar's forces and Rabbani's government. Karzai
Kabul in a vehicle provided by Hekmatyar and driven by Gul
Taliban emerged in the mid-1990s, Karzai initially recognized
them as a legitimate government because he thought that they would
stop the violence and corruption in his country. He was requested
Taliban to serve as their ambassador but he refused, telling
friends that he felt Pakistan's
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was
wrongly using them. He lived in the Pakistani city of
Afghan refugees, where he worked to reinstate former
Zahir Shah. In July 1999, Karzai's father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was
gunned down early in the morning while coming home from a mosque in
the city of Quetta. Reports suggest that the
Taliban carried out the
assassination. Following this incident, Karzai decided to work
closely with the Northern Alliance, which was led by Ahmad Shah
In 2000 and 2001, he traveled to Europe and the United States to help
gather support for the anti-
Taliban movement. "Massoud and Karzai
warned the United States that the
Taliban were connected with al Qaeda
and that there was a plot for an imminent attack on the United States,
but their warnings went unheeded. On September 9, 2001, two days
before the 9/11 attacks in America, Massoud was assassinated by al
Qaeda agents in a suicide bombing." As the U.S. Armed Forces were
preparing for a confrontation with the
Taliban in September 2001,
Karzai began urging
NATO states to purge his country of al-Qaeda. He
told BBC "These Arabs, together with their foreign supporters and the
Taliban, destroyed miles and miles of homes and orchards and
vineyards... They have killed Afghans. They have trained their guns on
Afghan lives... We want them out."
President and Chairman of a transitional administration
Further information: List of
Afghan Transitional Administration
Karzai appointed as President of the
Administration at the June
2002 loya jirga
2002 loya jirga (grand assembly) in Kabul,
After 7 October 2001 launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United
Front (Northern Alliance) worked with teams of U.S. special forces.
Together, they overthrew the
Taliban regime and mustered support for a
new government in Afghanistan. Karzai and his group were in Quetta
(Pakistan) at the time, where they began their covert operation.
Before entering Afghanistan, he warned his fighters:
We might be captured the moment we enter
Afghanistan and be killed. We
have 60 percent chance of death and 40 percent chance to live and
survive. Winning was no consideration. We could not even think of
that. We got on two motorbikes. We drove into Afghanistan.
— Hamid Karzai, October 2001
On 5 December 2001,
Hamid Karzai and his group of fighters survived a
friendly fire missile attack by U.S. Air Force pilots in southern
Afghanistan. The group suffered injuries and was treated in the United
States; Karzai received injuries to his facial nerves, as can
sometimes be noticed during his speeches. On 4 November 2001,
American special operation forces flew Karzai out of
Karzai speaking before the U.S. Congress in June 2004
In December 2001, political leaders gathered in Germany to agree on
new leadership structures. Under 5 December Bonn Agreement, they
Interim Administration and named Karzai Chairman of a
29-member governing committee. He was sworn in as leader on 22
December. The loya jirga of 13 June 2002 appointed Karzai as Interim
President of the new position as President of the
Administration. Former members of the
Northern Alliance remained
extremely influential, most notably Vice President Mohammed Fahim, who
also served as the Defense Minister.
Karzai re-enacted the original coronation of Ahmad Shah
Durrani at the
shrine of Sher-i-Surkh outside
Kandahar where he had leaders of
Afghan tribes, including a descendent of the religious leader
(Sabir Shah) who originally selected Ahmad Shah
Durrani in 1747 as key
players in this event. Further evidence that Karzai views himself
Durrani monarch's role arise from statements furnished by
close allies within his government. His late brother, Ahmed Wali
Karzai, made statements to a similar effect.
After Karzai was installed into power, his actual authority outside
the capital city of
Kabul was said to be so limited that he was often
derided as the "Mayor of Kabul". The situation was particularly
delicate since Karzai and his administration have not been equipped
either financially or politically to influence reforms outside of the
region around Kabul. Other areas, particularly the more remote ones,
have historically been under the influence of various local leaders.
Karzai has been, to varying degrees of success, attempting to
negotiate and form amicable alliances with them for the benefit of
Afghanistan as a whole, instead of aggressively fighting them and
risking an uprising.
In 2004, he rejected an international proposal to end poppy production
Afghanistan through aerial spraying of chemical herbicides, fearing
that it would harm the economic situation of his countrymen. Moreover,
Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai – who partially
helped finance Karzai's presidential campaign – was rumored to
be involved in narcotic deals, which has been rejected. Karzai
said that he has sought in writing a number of times, but failed to
obtain, proof of allegations that Ahmed Wali was involved in illegal
Afghan presidential election
Afghan presidential election, 2004
Karzai's inauguration on 7 December 2004, after winning the
When Karzai was a candidate in the October 2004 presidential election,
he won 21 of the 34 provinces, defeating his 22 opponents and becoming
the first democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.
Although his campaigning was limited due to fears of violence,
elections passed without significant incident. Following investigation
by the United Nations of alleged voting irregularities, the national
election commission in early November declared Karzai winner, without
runoff, with 55.4% of the vote. This represented 4.3 million of
the total 8.1 million votes cast. The election took place safely
in spite of a surge of insurgent activity.
Karzai was sworn in as President of the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan on 7 December 2004, at a formal ceremony in Kabul. Many
interpreted the ceremony as a symbolically important "new start" for
the war-torn nation. Notable guests at the inauguration included the
country's former King, Zahir Shah, three former U.S. presidents, and
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
Main article: Presidency of Hamid Karzai
First term (2004–2009)
After winning a democratic mandate in the 2004 election, it was
thought that Karzai would pursue a more aggressively reformist path in
2005. However, Karzai has proved to be more cautious than was
expected. After his new administration took over in 2004, the economy
Afghanistan began growing rapidly for the first time in many years.
Government revenue began increasing every year, although it is still
heavily dependent on foreign aid.
Karzai with former US President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush and wife
Laura Bush at
Camp David in 2007.
During the first term in Karzai's Presidency, public discontent grew
about corruption and the civilian casualties in the 2001–14. In May
2006, an anti-American and anti-Karzai riot took place in
left at least seven people dead and 40 injured. In May 2007, after
as many as 51
Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing, Karzai
asserted that his government "can no longer accept" casualties caused
by U.S. and
Karzai in February 2009
In September 2006, Karzai told the United Nations General Assembly
Afghanistan has become the "worst victim" of terrorism.
Karzai said terrorism is rebounding in his country, with militants
infiltrating the borders to wage attacks on civilians. He stated,
"This does not have its seeds alone in Afghanistan. Military action in
the country will, therefore, not deliver the shared goal of
eliminating terrorism." He demanded assistance from the international
community to destroy terrorist sanctuaries inside and outside
Afghanistan. "You have to look beyond
Afghanistan to the sources of
terrorism," he told the UN General Assembly, and "destroy terrorist
sanctuaries beyond" the country, dismantle the elaborate networks in
the region that recruit, indoctrinate, train, finance, arm, and deploy
terrorists. These activities are also robbing thousands of Afghan
children of their right to education, and prevent health workers from
doing their jobs in Afghanistan. In addition, he promised to eliminate
opium-poppy cultivation in his country, which is possibly helping fuel
Taliban insurgency. He has repeatedly demanded that NATO
forces take more care to avoid civilian casualties when conducting
military operations in residential areas. In a September 2006
video broadcast, Karzai stated that if the money wasted on the Iraq
War had been actually spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, his country
would "be in heaven in less than one year".
2009 re-election and second term
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election billboard for Karzai in Kandahar
Province. Karzai won another 5-year term.
Karzai discussing security and development issues in Helmand Province
on 2 January 2010.
On the eve of 20 August presidential election, Karzai seemed at once
deeply unpopular but also likely to win the majority of the votes. He
was blamed by many for the failures that plagued the reconstruction of
Afghanistan after the toppling of the
Taliban government in 2001, from
the widespread corruption and the resurgence of the (neo-)
the explosion of the poppy trade. His unpopularity and the likelihood
of his victory formed an atmosphere with a kind of national
demoralization, which could discourage many Afghans from voting and
dash hopes for substantial progress after the election.
In this second presidential election, Karzai was announced to have
received over 50% of the votes. The election was tainted by lack of
security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing,
intimidation, and other electoral fraud.
Two months later Karzai accepted calls for a second round run-off
vote, which was scheduled for 7 November 2009. On 2 November
2009, Karzai's run-off opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the
race and election officials announced the cancellation of the run-off
race. Karzai, the only remaining contender, was declared the winner a
short time later.
Karzai presented his first list of 24 cabinet nominees to the Afghan
parliament on 19 December 2009; however, on 2 January 2010, the
parliament rejected 17 of these. According to the parliament, most of
the nominees were rejected due to having been picked for reasons other
than their competency. A member of parliament said that they had been
picked largely based on "ethnicity or bribery or money."
Karzai at the 2011
Afghan Independence Day in Kabul, which is held
every year on 19 August to commemorate Afghanistan's independence from
British control over its foreign affairs.
On 16 January 2010, the
Afghan parliament rejected 10 of the Karzai's
17 replacement picks for cabinet. MPs complained that Karzai's new
choices were either not qualified for their posts or had close
Afghan warlords. Despite the second setback, by
mid-January Karzai had 14 out of the 24 ministers confirmed, including
the most powerful posts at foreign, defense and interior
ministries. Shortly afterwards, the parliament began its winter
recess, lasting until 20 February, without waiting for Karzai to
select additional names for his cabinet. The move not only extended
the political uncertainty in the government, but also dealt Karzai the
embarrassment of appearing at the London Conference on Afghanistan
with nearly half of his cabinet devoid of leaders.
Since late 2001 Karzai has been trying for peace in his country, going
as far as pardoning militants that lay down weapons and join the
rebuilding process. However, his offers were not accepted by the
militant groups. In April 2007, Karzai acknowledged that he spoke to
some militants about trying to bring peace in Afghanistan. He
noted that the
Afghan militants are always welcome in the country,
although foreign insurgents are not. In September 2007, Karzai
again offered talks with militant fighters after a security scare
forced him to end a commemoration speech. Karzai left the event
and was taken back to his palace, where he was due to meet visiting
Latvian President Valdis Zatlers. After the meeting the pair held a
joint news conference, at which Karzai called for talks with his
Taliban foes. "We don't have any formal negotiations with the Taliban.
They don't have an address. Who do we talk to?" Karzai told reporters.
He further stated: "If I can have a place where to send somebody to
talk to, an authority that publicly says it is the
I will do it."
In December 2009 Karzai announced to move ahead with a Loya Jirga
(large assembly) to discuss the
Taliban insurgency in which the
Taliban representatives would be invited to take part in this
Jirga. In January 2010, Karzai set the framework for dialogue with
Taliban leaders when he called on the group's leadership to take part
in the jirga to initiate peace talks. A
Taliban spokesman declined to
talk in detail about Karzai's offer and only said the militants would
make a decision soon. In April 2010, Karzai urged Taliban
insurgents to lay down their arms and air their grievances while
visiting a violent northern province, adding that foreign forces would
not leave the country as long as fighting continued. In July 2010,
Karzai approved a plan intended to win over
Taliban foot soldiers and
low-level commanders. In mid-August 2013, Attorney General
Mohammad Ishaq Aloko
Mohammad Ishaq Aloko was said to have been fired after meeting with
Taliban officials in the U.A.E. after being told not to meet with
them. However, unnamed senior cabinet officials tried to persuade
Karzai to not fire him, while an official in Aloko's office denied the
dismissal saying instead that he was at the Presidential Palace
"celebrating Independence Day."
Presidency of Hamid Karzai
Presidency of Hamid Karzai § Foreign relations
See also: Foreign relations of
Afghanistan and Politics of Afghanistan
Karzai with former U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice in June
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen with Karzai in 2009
Karzai with Russia's President
Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.
Karzai speaking at the 47th
Munich Security Conference
Munich Security Conference in 2011.
Karzai's relations with
NATO countries is strong, especially with the
United States, due to the fact that it is the leading nation helping
to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan. Karzai enjoys a very friendly and
strongly strategic partnership with the United States, despite various
disagreements. The U.S. has supported him since late 2001 to lead his
nation. He has made many important diplomatic trips to the United
States and other
NATO countries. In August 2007, Karzai was invited to
Camp David in Maryland, USA, for a special meeting with U.S. President
George W. Bush. The United States has set up a special envoy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is headed by Marc Grossman. His task
is to serve as a mediator and solve issues between the three nations.
However, in recent years the relations between U.S. and Karzai has
become strained, particularly Karzai has been very critical of U.S.
military because of their high-level of civilian
casualties. Further strain in relations with the United
States resulted in 2014, when Afghanistan, joined Cuba, Nicaragua,
North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela as the only countries to recognize
the Russian annexation of the Crimea. The United States, European
countries, and most other nations wholeheartedly condemned the Russian
takeover, as well as the validity of the subsequent Crimean Referendum
on its annexation to Russia. Citing "the free will of the Crimean
people," the office of President
Hamid Karzai said, "we respect the
decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that
considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation."
Karzai's relations with neighboring Pakistan are good, especially with
Awami National Party
Awami National Party (ANP) and
Pakistan Peoples Party
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He
often describes his nation and Pakistan as "inseparable twin
brothers", a reference to the disputed
Durand Line border between the
two states. In December 2007, Karzai and his delegates travelled to
Islamabad, Pakistan, for a usual meeting with
Pervez Musharraf on
trade ties and intelligence sharing between the two Islamic
states. Karzai also met and had a 45-minute talk with Benazir
Bhutto on the morning of 27 December, hours before her trip to Liaquat
National Bagh, where she was assassinated after her speech. After
Bhutto's death, Karzai called her his sister and a brave woman who had
a clear vision "for her own country, for Afghanistan, and for the
region – a vision of democracy, prosperity, and peace." In
September 2008, Karzai was invited on a special visit to witness the
swearing-in ceremony of Asif Ali Zardari, who became the President of
Pakistan. Relations between
Afghanistan and Pakistan have improved
after the PPP party took over in 2008. The two nations often make
contacts with one another concerning the war on terrorism and trade.
Pakistan even allowed
NATO forces stationed in
Afghanistan to launch
attacks on militant groups in Pakistan. This was something strongly
opposed by the previous government of Pakistan. The two states finally
signed into law the long-awaited Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade
Agreement in 2011, intended to improve trade.
Karzai believes that Iran is a friend although the U.S. often claims
that neighboring Iran is meddling in Afghanistan's affairs.
In 2007, Karzai said that Iran, so far, had been a helper in the
reconstruction process. He acknowledged in 2010 that the
Government of Iran had been providing millions of dollars directly to
his office. In October 2007, Karzai again rejected Western
accusations against Iran, stating, "We have resisted the negative
propaganda launched by foreign states against the Islamic Republic,
and we stress that aliens' propaganda should not leave a negative
impact on the consolidated ties between the two great nations of Iran
and Afghanistan." Karzai added, "The two Iranian and Afghan
nations are close to each other due to their bonds and commonalities,
they belong to the same house, and they will live alongside each other
Barack Obama meets with Karzai at the
Presidential Palace in Kabul,
Some international criticism has centered around the government of
Karzai in early 2009 for failing to secure the country from Taliban
attacks, systemic governmental corruption, and widespread claims of
electoral fraud in the 2009
Afghan presidential election.
Karzai staunchly defended the election balloting, stating that some
statements criticizing the balloting and vote count were "totally
fabricated." He told the media that, "There were instances of fraud,
no doubt... There were irregularities... But the election as a whole
was good and free and democratic." He further went on to say that,
Afghanistan has its separate problems and we have to handle them as
Afghanistan finds it feasible... This country was completely
destroyed... Today, we are talking about fighting corruption in
Afghanistan, improved legal standards... You see the glass half empty
or half full. I see it as half full. Others see it as half empty."
In June 2010, Karzai travelled to
Japan for a five-day visit where the
two nations discussed a new aid provided by the hosting nation and the
untapped mineral resources recently announced. Karzai invited Japanese
companies such as
Mitsubishi and others to invest in
projects. He told Japanese officials that
Japan would be given
priority in the bid to explore its resources. He stated, "morally,
Afghanistan should give access as a priority to those countries that
Afghanistan massively in the past few years." While in
Japan, Karzai also made his first visit to
Hiroshima to pray for the
atomic bomb victims.
Japan has provided billions of dollars in aid
Afghanistan since the beginning of 2002.
Relations between Karzai and
India have always been friendly; he
attended university there. Afghanistan–
India relations began getting
stronger in 2011, especially after the death of Osama bin Laden in
Pakistan. In October 2011, Karzai signed a strategic partnership
agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During his speech
at the RK Mishra Memorial in New Delhi, Karzai told the audience that
"The signing of the strategic partnership with
India is not directed
against any country. It is not directed against any other entity. This
Afghanistan to benefit from the strength of India."
Main article: Assassination attempts of Hamid Karzai
Bodyguards from United States Naval
Special Warfare Development Group
provide close protection for Karzai.
Many people have plotted to assassinate Karzai in the last decade,
especially the Taliban's
Shura and the
Haqqani network which
allegedly receives support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) spy network. As recent as October 2011,
while Karzai was visiting
India to sign an important strategic
partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
Afghan agents of the
National Directorate of Security
National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested 6
Kabul for planning to assassinate Karzai. Among those
involved in the assassination plot were four
Kabul University students
and one of its professors, Dr. Aimal Habib, as well as Mohibullah
Ahmadi who was one of the guards outside the
Presidential Palace in
Kabul. The alleged group of assassins were associates of al Qaida
and the Haqqani network, and were paid $150,000 by Pakistani-based
Islamic terrorists. A U.S. official said that "Our
understanding is that the threat against President Karzai was real,
was credible, but it was only in the early stages of planning."
The following is a list of other failed assassination attempts:
5 September 2002: An assassination attempt was made on Karzai in the
city of Kandahar. A gunman wearing the uniform of the new Afghan
National Army opened fire, wounding
Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai (former governor
of Kandahar) and an American
Special Operations officer. The gunman,
one of the President's bodyguards, and a bystander who knocked down
the gunman were killed when Karzai's American bodyguards returned
fire. Some pictures of the United States Naval
Development Group (DEVGRU) responding to the attempt have surfaced.
16 September 2004: An attempted assassination on Karzai took place
when a rocket missed the helicopter he was flying in while en route to
the city of
Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.
10 June 2007:
Taliban insurgents attempted to assassinate Karzai in
Ghazni where he was giving a speech to elders. Insurgents fired
approximately 12 rockets, some of which landed 200 metres
(220 yd) away from the crowd. Karzai was not hurt in the incident
and was transported away from the location after finishing his
27 April 2008: Insurgents, reportedly from the Haqqani network, used
automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades to attack a military
parade that Karzai was attending in Kabul. Karzai was safe, but at
least three people were killed, including a parliamentarian, a
ten-year-old girl and a minority leader, and ten injured.
Others attending the event included government ministers, former
warlords, diplomats and the military top brass, all of whom had
gathered to mark the 16th anniversary of the fall of the Afghan
communist government to the mujahideen. Responding to the attack
during the ceremony, the UN said the attackers "have shown their utter
disrespect for the history and people of Afghanistan." Taliban
Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack,
stating, "We fired rockets at the scene of the celebration." He went
on to say there were 6
Taliban at the scene and that 3 were killed.
"Our aim was not to directly hit someone," Mujahed said when asked if
the intention was to kill Karzai. "We just wanted to show to the world
that we can attack anywhere we want to". The ability of the
attackers to get so close to Karzai suggested they had inside help.
Defense minister Wardak confirmed that a police captain was connected
with the group behind the assassination attempt and that an army
officer supplied the weapons and ammunition used in the attack.
After the 2017 Nangarhar airstrike, Karzai called the current
Ashraf Ghani a traitor. In October 2017 Karzai stated
that the U.S. uses the Islamic State insurgency as a tool in
Afghanistan, aimed at destabilizing the whole region, urging the
international community, in his words, to convince the U.S. that it
needs to actually fight terrorism.
Personal life and tribal lineage
Karzai speaking at a shura to tribal and religious leaders in his
native Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan.
Further information: Sadozai (Pastun tribe), Durrani, and Popalzai
Hamid Karzai married Zeenat Quraishi, a gynaecologist by
profession who was working as a doctor with
Afghan refugees living in
Pakistan. They have a son, Mirwais, who was born in January
2007, a daughter, Malalai, born in 2012 and another daughter,
Howsi, born in March 2014 in Gurgaon, India. He became father once
again at the age of 58 when another daughter was born in September
2016 in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. According to a declaration of
his assets by an anti-graft body, Karzai earns $525 monthly and has
less than $20,000 in bank accounts. Karzai does not own any land
Karzai has six brothers, including
Mahmood Karzai and Qayum Karzai, as
well as Ahmed Wali Karzai, deceased, who was the representative for
Afghanistan region. Qayum is also the founder of the
Afghans for a Civil Society. Karzai has one sister, Fauzia Karzai.
The family owns and operates several successful
Afghan restaurants in
East Coast of the United States
East Coast of the United States and in Chicago.
In initial biographical news reporting, there was confusion regarding
his clan lineage; it was written that his paternal lineage derived
from the Sadozai clan. This confusion might have arisen from
sources stating he was chosen as the tribal chief, or Khan, of the
Popalzai. Traditionally, the
Popalzai tribe has been led by
members of the Sadozais. The first King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah
Durrani, was the leader of the Sadozais, and the Sadozai lineage
continued to rule
Afghanistan until 1826 when the Barakzais ascended
to the throne.
Karzai is believed to be from the Shamizai subtribe of the
Popalzais. His grandfather, Khair Muhammad Karzai, was a head of
Popalzai tribe from
Kandahar who relocated to
Kabul and ran the
business of a guest house. This allowed Karzai's father Abdul Ahad, to
gain a foothold in the royal family, and subsequently, the parliament.
These actions and upwards movement within the
Popalzai tribal system,
led to the Karzai family furnishing a viable Shamizai clan alternative
to Sadozai leadership in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion when the
Sadozai clan failed to provide a tribal leader. He is often
seen wearing a Karakul hat, something that has been worn by many
Afghan kings in the past.
Honorary degrees and awards
Karzai receiving a commemorative medallion of 11 September 2001
attacks from Jack Kingston. The medallion was forged from steel
salvaged from the World Trade Center site.
Over the years
Hamid Karzai has become a well recognized figure. He
has received a number of awards and honorary degrees from famous
government and educational institutions around the world. The
following are some of his awards and honoraria.
A commemorative medallion of 11 September 2001 attacks from the United
States House of Representatives, presented to him by member of the
Jack Kingston on 29 January 2002.
An honorary doctorate in literature from Himachal Pradesh University
in India, his alma mater, on 7 March 2003.
In June 2003, Karzai was created an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the
Order of St Michael and St George
Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II.
On 4 July 2004, Karzai was awarded the
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his acceptance speech, Karzai stated:
"Where Liberty dies, evil grows. We Afghans have learned from our
historical experiences that liberty does not come easily. We
profoundly appreciate the value of liberty...for we have paid for it
with our lives. And we will defend liberty with our lives."
On 22 May 2005, received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Boston
On 25 May 2005, received an honorary degree from the Center for Afghan
Studies at the University of Nebraska — Omaha.
On 25 September 2006, received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from
In June 2012, received an honorary Doctorate from Nippon Sports
Lovely Professional University conferred honorary Doctorate on Karzai
on 20 May 2013
In August 2011, Karzai pardoned dozens of child would-be suicide
bombers, and in February 2012 some of the pardoned children were
re-arrested attempting to commit suicide bombings in Kandahar
The other main areas of criticism surrounding President Karzai involve
nepotism, corruption, electoral fraud, and the involvement of his late
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai in the drug trade.
Under Karzai's administration, electoral fraud was so apparent that
Afghanistan's status as a democratic state came into
question. Furthermore, a special court set up personally by
Karzai in defiance of constitutional norms sought to reinstate dozens
of candidates who were removed for fraud in the 2010 parliamentary
elections by the Independent Electoral Commission.
Financial ties with
CIA and the government of Iran
On 28 April 2013,
The New York Times
The New York Times revealed that from December 2002
up to the publication date, Karzai's presidential office was funded
with "tens of millions of dollars" of black cash from the
CIA in order
to buy influence within the
Afghan government. The article stated that
"the cash that does not appear to be subject to the oversight and
restrictions." An unnamed American official was quoted by The New York
Times as stating that "The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan
was the United States."
On 17 June 2013,
Senator Bob Corker
Senator Bob Corker put a hold on $75 million intended
for electoral programs in
Afghanistan after his inquiries of 2 May, 14
May and 13 June to the
Obama Administration regarding the
money" remained unanswered.
Karzai also admitted that his office received millions of dollars in
cash from the Iranian government. Karzai stated that the money
was given as gifts and intended for renovating his Presidential Palace
in Kabul."This is transparent. This is something that I've even
discussed while I was at
Camp David with President Bush."
Main article: Corruption in Afghanistan
According to The New York Times, many members of the Karzai family
have mixed their personal interests with that of the state, and become
hugely influential and wealthy by murky means. In 2012
Afghanistan was tied with Somalia and North Korea at the bottom of
Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, and it
ranked 172/175 in 2014.
Mahmoud Karzai, the brother of President Karzai, was implicated in the
Kabul Bank crisis.
Mahmud Karzai was the 3rd largest shareholder
in the bank with a 7% stake.
Kabul Bank incurred huge losses on its
investments in villas in
Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The real estate
investments were registered in the name of
Kabul Bank chairman,
Mahmud Karzai bought one such villa from Farnood for
7 million dirhams using money borrowed from
Kabul Bank and in a matter
of months sold it for 10.4 million dirhams. Mahmud Karzai's
purchase of the 7% stake in
Kabul Bank was also financed entirely
through money lent by
Kabul Bank with the shares as collateral.
Karzai has admitted that there is widespread corruption in
Afghanistan, but has blamed the problem largely on the way contracts
are awarded by the international community, and said that the
"perception of corruption" is a deliberate attempt to weaken the
There has been much debate over Karzai's alleged consultant work with
Unocal (Union Oil Company of California since acquired by Chevron in
2005). In 2002, when Karzai became the subject of heavy media coverage
as one of the front runners to lead Afghanistan, it was reported that
he was a former consultant for them. Spokesmen for both
Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal
could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium. The
original claim that Karzai worked for
Unocal originates from a 6
December 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde, Barry Lane
UNOCAL's manager for public relations states in an interview on the
website Emperor's Clothes that, "He was never a consultant, never an
employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our
records." Lane however did say that Zalmay Khalilzad, the
former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, was a Unocal
consultant in the mid-1990s.
In October 2013, Karzai's administration and the Afghanistan
Intelligence agency were found to be communicating with the Pakistani
Taliban about the shifting of power that may occur when the U.S.
Forces withdraw in 2014. Karzai himself was in London at the time
of the discovery, to participate in talks with Pakistan and the U.S.
on the possible location of
Taliban leader Mullah Baradar. At the
time, it was unknown if Karzai was directly involved or even knew of
List of presidents of Afghanistan
Politics of Afghanistan
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Kabul Bank crisis
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Popalzai tribe's Khan Khel,
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during the anti-Soviet period. Instead, they placed tribal leadership
in the hands of Abdul Ahad Karzai, a member of a key family in the
Shamizai subtribe. Following Abdul Ahad's assassination in 1999, his
son, Hamid Karzai, inherited his father's mantle and can be expected
to retain this tribal leadership position for the remainder of
Afghanistan's conflict. Normally, the eldest son would have been
selected to bear this tribal responsibility, but this son was living
in the United States and was generally unavailable to serve as tribal
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Unocal ... bidding for the
lucrative contract to build an oil pipeline from Uzbekistan through
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Online. Retrieved 12 September 2009. And one further thing both men
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Unocal on the US$2 billion project of a
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^ a b "Hamid Karzai". globalsecurity. 2007. Retrieved 11 December
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issue of the French newspaper Le Monde. Some have suggested that
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Jared Israel interviewing Barry Lane (9 July 2002). "Emperor's
Unocal Oil". Emperor's Clothes. Retrieved 12
September 2009. Jared Israel: The other thing that is being asserted
everywhere is that Hamid Karzai, the current head of the Afghan
'government' once worked for you.
Barry Lane: Yeah. Yeah, well that's probably one of the great urban
legends. He never worked for us.
Jared Israel: He didn't work for somebody else who worked for you?
Barry Lane: No. No, not him. He was never a consultant, never an
employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our records to try
and find out where the hell that came from.
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Dam, Bette. A Man and a Motorcycle, Ipso Facto Publ., Sept. 2014.
Dam, Bette. "The Misunderstanding of Hamid Karzai", Foreign Policy,
Oc.t 3, 2014.
Partlow, Joshua (2016). A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and
Afghan Disaster. Knopf. ISBN 978-0307962645.
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