Angry Karzai-Sad Karzai

Many followed with interest the latest trip of the Afghan President Karzai to Washington, who had openly expressed anger over the report of torture of Afghan citizens at the hands of the US military at the US military base in Bagram, Afghanistan as was reported by New York Times. Many also watched with interest the outcome of his talks at the White House with the United States President on the issue he called long-term strategic relationship. Karzai seemed determined to request some degree of control over the US military activities in Afghanistan.

An angry Karzai thus went into the White House where he transformed, after his talks with the US leader, to a sad Karzai. His transformation showed conspicuously at the press conference that followed the meeting of the two leaders at the White House.While President Bush seemed in full control, President Karzai transformed from “prosecutor to defense council” defending the excesses committed against Afghan nationals at the US military base in Bagram. He said he was sad over the report. Answering a question on the issue of the death of at least two Afghan nationals during interrogation and reported torture at the hands of the US interrogators, President Karzai said that that has been the work of a few individuals. He even expressed some degree of happiness over the fact that he had read somewhere that one of those individuals involved in the case had been sentenced to three months in jail already. He forgot to note that many of his citizens would question the justice of a three- month jail time for the killing of an Afghan citizen.

Thus an angry Afghan leader came out from his talks with the leader of the United States as a tame, though sad individual with empty hands. Of course he was promised help and assistance in areas considered priority by the United States. Of course he heard from the US president about the necessity to be firmer in the fight against poppy cultivation. And most importantly he signed a historic document with the United States on a strategic, political, economic and military cooperation between the two countries.

His request for more control over the US military activity in Afghanistan was denied. His request for handing over of the Afghan prisoners, now held by the US forces, to the government of Afghanistan was denied. But the document, on which according to the US president the two sides had worked for quite some time and which gave a green light to the US forces and those of its allies and a free hand in the conduct of their military activities was signed with him as a token of the friendship between the two governments. Observers seriously question the need for such a document and the contents of the document that is for the most part a one sided desire for the continuation of the pursuit of military and political targets of outside forces in Afghanistan.

Presently, Afghanistan has a powerful friend, the United States. That is good. The United States has expressed continuously its readiness to help Afghanistan develop into a democracy and according to President Bush, a model democracy in that part of the world. The United States has spent and is committed to spend more money-in billions of Dollars to achieve that goal. The Afghan president knows that. He further knows that his own security as a person and the security of his country as a nation presently depend on the military might of the United States. These are only obvious facts. What is important to note is that many of the mutual objectives of the two nations could be met if a more positive and constructive diplomacy were played. President Karzai could have made the point that a gentler US military, and a force that is bound by international law to respect the national sovereignty of his country would lead more readily to the conquering of the hearts and minds of the Afghans. He could have made it more clear that it was to the benefit of the United States as well when the Afghan nation, through its upcoming parliament reached up to the United States for further strengthening of relations and or entering into pacts and treaties that would enhance the prosperity of the Afghan nation and provide for peace in the region and the world. Karzai failed to do that and his hosts failed to realize the importance of reaching out to the Afghan nation. Presently both President Karzai and President Bush rely on each other for reaching of their goals. The dependence of the United States on one individual in a nation is a dangerous proposition. 5/24/05