Transcript of President Karzai's Interview with the Indian TV Channel, CNN-IBN

November 10, 2012

MUMBAI-CNN-IBN Reporter:
Hello and welcome to the special interview. Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai is visiting India to take the strategic partnership with India forward. But he is also here at a very crucial time in terms of world affairs. President Karzai! Thanks so much for speaking with us on CNN-IBN. This is your first interview since President Obama was re-elected in the United States. What do you think the second term for President Obama is perhaps going to mean for the region particularly given the tension between US-Afghanistan ties right now?

President Karzai:
Well, I would first congratulate him on his re-election in the astounding victory, and then I would hope that the United States and Afghanistan would work on issues that are important for Afghanistan that are also in ways very important for the United States, that the Transition would be done in time, that the Afghan security forces be supported and strengthened and that the afghan institution building could continue, and that all of us together here in this case for peace building in Afghanistan, for the war on terror would work sincerely in the region, between the region and the United States towards an outcome good for all of us.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
You are saying you sound hopeful, not confident. In may this year, in fact in an interview you said things were so bad between the US and Afghanistan particularly given the green on blue attacks, particularly given the tensions over a US marine opening fire on civilians and immunity clauses, that it could be time to say goodbye between the two countries, have relations really hit that low?

President Karzai:
Madam! We have had serious issues with the United States and some other members of NATO on civilian casualties in Afghanistan for such a long time, on the conduct of the reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, the way aid flows to Afghanistan, on the issue of contracts to government officials, or to their relatives, or to parliamentarians or others in Afghanistan. Those were issues of immense importance to Afghanistan and Afghanistan had to speak about them in order to bring a correction. Improvement has taken place. Now as we move forward, Afghanistan wishes that the mission in the war on terrorism by NATO and the United States as it began ten years ago in Afghanistan would reach conclusion whereby Afghanistan will be secure, and peaceful, whereby the war on terrorism and radicalism be successful for the whole region. Now in that direction, Afghanistan is willing to be a great, helpful partner. But in that partnership, Afghanistan must not suffer the way it has suffered.

Interview:
All right, I will just ask, many in the US are saying that President Hamid Karzai has turned anti-American, are you anti-American?

President Karzai:
Not at all, the American people are a very hard working people. The American taxpayer money has bought a lot of good to Afghanistan, schools, health services, universities, roads... We are grateful a plenty to the American people, but where we have a difference of opinion on the conduct of policy or issues that hurt Afghanistan surely, for example, we have always been saying that the war on terror is not and can not be won in afghan villages, by bombing afghan villages, or raiding afghan homes, that it has to be found and defeated in its sanctuaries, in the training grounds, in the motivational factors for terrorism, to the financial resources to terrorism. They never went there, rather we were made the targets, where we were not the targets, that is the difference we had and I hope it will be resolved in this term.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
You mentioned about the war against radicalism amongst other things, the world is now marking the international Malala day, when a young girl there in Wazirestan was shot , you wrote letters to Pakistan leadership saying that it is time to jointly fight terrorism, what made you do that?

President Karzai:
I have been in contact with Pakistani leaders in the government and outside of the government for years now. Madam! In the past sixty years of history between Afghanistan and Pakistan, there has never been so much interaction the two governments, the two states, as we have had in the past ten years. Against all odds, against all the difficulties, the Afghan people and the Afghan government representing the afghan people has worked earnestly with dedication with Pakistan, we hope that we could have had the results commensurate with efforts that we had. We didn’t. When the attack on Malala happened, this once again proved our point, that terrorism or extremism is a snake, you can’t train a snake and expect that it will keep on roaming in other quarters, it is bound to come back. Malala was such case, very unfortunate case, where we had in Afghanistan and before that in Pakistan as well, thousands of students hurt by bombs, acid throwing to their faces, their bodies, destruction of their schools and killing of their teachers, so the pain is now the same in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Therefore, since the pain has become the same, and its sources are the same, there must be a realization that we work together, and towards that expectation that I had of the Pakistan’s leaders that I wrote to them, some of them have responded, others I am waiting to respond to, and I hope we can take this forward.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Well, I can tell you what the Pakistani foreign ministry said, they in fact issued a statement after your letters saying that it is upto the Afghan government to act on the attackers of Malala, particularly Maulana Fazlullah, who they say is actually operating out of Afghanistan, they say they have given dossiers to Kabul on that subject and it is in fact Afghanistan that needs to do more on terror.

President Karzai:
Well, the war that has been created, the radicalism that has been trained for years and the borders that have been broken, the cross border terrorist activity was bound to, as I gave the example of the snake, go both ways, no matter how many individuals we address that cross to Afghanistan or Pakistani side of the border, we will not address the war on terror effectively unless we dry their sources, if Maulana Fazul Rahman is in Afghanistan, where has he come from? From Pakistan, who trained him? Who resourced him, who brought him to this activity, we must address that, and that is not in Afghanistan,

CNN-IBN Reporter:
You say it is in Pakistan?

President Karzai:
It is there, therefore, as much as we suffer in Afghanistan and as much as we have suffered in Afghanistan for so many years in Afghanistan, we know unfortunately see the same happening in Pakistan, and we are pained by that. It is this pain together that I hope will bring a realization in our brothers and sisters in Pakistan that it is time now for the good of all of us including India to do away with radicalism and not see it as a tool but as a menace.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
If Maulana Fazlullah is in Afghanistan, is catching Malala’s attackers a priority for the Afghan government as well?

President Karzai:
Absolutely, by all means, Malala’s attackers, if they have gone from Afghanistan, is our priority, if they have the attack from inside Pakistan, they are priority for both of us, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the attacks that are launched in Afghanistan, everyday ten to twenty people die in Afghanistan in acts of terrorism, it is priority for Pakistan and for Afghanistan and, as a matter of fact for India. So what all I am saying is that the suffering is now not in Afghanistan alone, that the suffering is more so in Pakistan today, and how come, why and where from? Did it all start in Afghanistan? No, did Afghans use radicalism as a means of policy? No, who did? Someone in this region did that, either of its own thinking and initiation or in collaboration with the western colonies? way back, that is what I am trying to convey that we must come to our senses and recognize that radicalism, extremism and the consequent terrorism is not a tool, cannot be the tool for any purpose, and it fires back and it has fired back, therefore let’s address it together.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
That is certainly a sentiment that resonates in India. President Karzai! You are in India, you are going to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, you will be speaking to him about the strategic partnership, India was the first country you signed the strategic partnership with, what is the next step, what do you expect to take forward now?

President Karzai:
India and Afghanistan have centuries old relationship in the context of you know the older regiment in this region and in the modern context of nations states that we are. India has been a great friend of Afghanistan, in collaboration with Afghanistan and especially in the past ten years, India has been at the forefront of assistance to Afghanistan. India is not traditionally a donor country, but it has contributed more than two billion dollars to Afghanistan, to education, to health, to electrification in Afghanistan and all of that. So we have a solid relationship, a strong relationship and a proven relationship, the Afghan people are grateful to that. This trip of mine to India is intended to take this relationship forward in all the directions that we have been working on, economic, political and security aspects.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
All right, when you say security aspects, you said India has made an exception when it comes to Afghanistan particularly as a donor country, but does it mean more, many in India are asking will it eventually mean Indian troops in Afghanistan helping with security situation especially given the ISAF forces pulling out in 2014?

President Karzai:
When NATO and ISAF leave Afghanistan, Afghanistan will absolutely be able to defend itself,

CNN-IBN Reporter:
are you sure?

President Karzai:
Definitely, absolutely sure of that within the country and will be able to look after itself, where India comes in is the training of Afghan forces, the officers, the police, the capacity building of the Afghan military forces, the equipping of the Afghan military forces, in that regard India will have a great role to play and that is the role we are seeking for India in Afghanistan and that is what we have discussed.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
You are also meeting with Indian businessmen on this particular trip, we have seen the Indian contribution to Afghanistan infrastructure two billion dollars in all, we have seen other engagements, the MoU’s that will be signed government to government, when it comes to the private sector, when it comes to the Indian businesses, what sort of Indian business would you like to see in Afghanistan?

President Karzai:
Well, Indian business has been shy so far, only recently they showed an interest in the iron ore mines of Afghanistan in the Hajigak, we have been encouraging Indian business and industry to come and invest in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the richest countries in the world as far as mineral resources are concerned from gas to oil to all other industrially needed minerals, today as a matter of fact right after this interview, I have meeting with businessmen and also a big lunch with Indian businesses in which I would encourage them to come in larger numbers, in bigger numbers in terms of investment and to benefit from Afghanistan’s mineral resources, as we have benefited from India’s help to Afghanistan. We have reasons to encourage India, it is a big economic power, it is our neighbor, it is a culture identity that we recognize easily with, so it works all round, in our favor and in favor of India and Indian businesses to be in Afghanistan.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Convincing them would be a lot easier if the security situation was a little more hopeful. President Karzai! India had in fact taken down its presence in Afghanistan after attacks on Indians, after attacks on the Indian embassy as well, there is the Delaram-Zaranj high way, but India helped build but can’t secure it. How do you propose to convince businessmen, how do you propose convince Indians, that in fact, their interest will be secure in Afghanistan in the situation?

President Karzai:
Well, those attacks were then against Indian interest in Afghanistan in order to discourage Indian presence in Afghanistan, but India should not be discouraged by those attacks, and India was not discouraged by those attacks, so we are I believe past that stage, we cannot surrender to attacks on us or to attacks on our relationship. It will be terrible for us and our future if it did, therefore in spite of all that, security or the lack of security, we must think long term and futuristically. For India in long term and towards a better future, investment in Afghanistan is an important foundation and I am sure they recognize that and they must do that.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
President Karzai! 2014 isn’t just the year that the international forces will pull out, so it is also the year that Afghanistan expects to go to elections, do you see that timetable changing at all ?

President Karzai:
No, not at all, we have already announced the date for the elections for the President and that’s in the month of April of 2014 and those elections will take place, and a new President will come to Afghanistan.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
A new President? You are sure that even if you are needed at that time, you will not stay on?

President Karzai:
No, I would not be needed. It is not good for our country nor is it good for me, the Constitution must work, it must move ahead, a new President must come, a fresh mind must come, I have done my time, I’ve delivered what I could to the Afghan people and to this nation, I think , this is time for me to retire and have the elections done, a new President comes and the country moves forward.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
you say that very clearly, yet many are worried, yet many do think that Afghanistan is far from the election process for that ISAF pullout process, given attacks, bomb attacks, we have seen as recently as yesterday, given an increasing amount of unhappiness within the security forces on the green on blue attacks, given the Taliban’s resurgence in so many ways, do you think Afghanistan will be ready?

President Karzai:
None of that should prevent us from holding an election, none of that should prevent us from having the transition completed. By the end of 2014, NATO and ISAF must leave Afghanistan. It is good for the country, it is the Afghan people to have those troops leave Afghanistan, we must prove ourselves as a nation, capable of defending ourselves, we must prove ourselves as a nation, capable of moving our Constitution forward, and we are not a nation of just the past few days, we have been there for, you know, centuries rather millennium therefore…

CNN-IBN Reporter:
I am just quoting from the International Crisis Group…

President Karzai:
yes, well, don’t believe.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
I will tell you what it says, the International Crisis Group says that there is a long, hard road to transition that is what they called in their report, and that in fact given the amount lack of preparations today in November 2014, it is impossible, it is virtually impossible they say to imagine a free, fair and violence-free elections could happen in 2014.

President Karzai:
They are wrong and like they were wrong before, they are wrong, Afghanistan conducted very difficult elections in 2009 for the President, those elections were accused by the Western media of being fraudulent, that was wrong. There was violence but who did that violence is something that we must answer later but the Afghan people in spite of that violence, came forward and voted, even in the most difficult areas. so, ma’am!, I can talk to you with absolute confidence on behalf of the Afghan people that they will come out to vote and have a new President and move forward.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Alright, I mentioned you are in India at a crucial time, next week, Mr Rabbani who is heading the reconciliation process, is expected to travel to Pakistan to restart that process of talks with the Taliban, what do you hope from those talks?

President Karzai:
Well, Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani’s late father Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani visited Pakistan three four times, once we travelled together , he worked very hard with Pakistan to have the peace process move forward, promises were made, we hope that this visit by Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani will accomplish for us and for Pakistan what we expect on both sides.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Because if there is any difference of opinion in the way Afghanistan is moving forward perhaps, many in India are concerned that talks with the Taliban is simply talking to terrorists, do you agree?

President Karzai:
Some Taliban may be categorized as terrorists but majority of them, thousands of them who have been driven from their homes by NATO forces or by circumstances within Afghanistan, they are the sons of the Afghan soil, they are welcome back to their homes and to their country and to their families but those who are with terrorist networks, those who are bad guys as they say, those of course are elements that no Afghan would like to see again. So, let’s differentiate between the bad ones and the Afghan ones.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
So, you are pressing ahead with that the reconciliation process , the question really, India, Afghanistan and the US already have a trilateral dialogue but for the region to grow, do you think that eventually there will have to be a regional dialogue- India-Pakistan- Afghanistan dialogue?

President Karzai:
Well, yes! A greatly desirable , you know, thing for us , we are bound to have that one day , this region can’t live in differences or in to call it in its real , you know, in its real meaning , the real environment of animosity , there has to be friendship, the population in this region needs to grow and the younger generation have a lot of rights on us to deliver to their future, so , I would very much want a three-way dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and that is the day that leaders in Pakistan should also be working on, and that’s the day that the leaders of India are seeking as well and most important of all, the people of the region are asking for it.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
you have spoken of shared histories; I will ask you quickly, there was a lot of reaction to the US envoy Grossman’s remarks on the Durand line. Is that a debate that is still going to continue? The controversy of the Durand line never seems to go away.

President Karzai:
The Afghan people since it was enforced on Afghanistan by the colonial British presence here , never accepted that line and it has been the case since then but the Afghan people have also not gone to war or animosity over it. The United States talked about it, they have recognized it , yes we know that, but the Afghan people have not accepted it, as a matter of fact, the people of this region must move beyond the definitions of separation by borders , the people of this region should go to something like the European Union where borders have become meaningless and that should apply to Afghanistan and Pakistan and also to India and Pakistan and perhaps also Bangladesh and others, we should evolve, rather (inaudible) into a union for this region.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
When we speak about historical matters, you spent some time in India , many decades ago, you speak very really about your time in India , so I would like to ask you , what was your best memory of your time?

President Karzai:
Great memories! Look , I was 18 to 24 - prime time in Simla and studied there , I am fit and slim because of years there, walking mountains up and down , going to the university, coming back to my hostel , it was great time and brought me values that I cherish and would like to have with me till the end of my life.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Many remember you as a young slim man as you said in drain-pipe jeans.

President Karzai:
Absolutely right! good times, got me education and got me moral values , I read the Indian Independence Movement , I read about the personalities , about Ghandi ji and about all his associates, about vegetarianism is one great thing that I took from here, good years , formative years.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
Alright, is there anything you would like to tell our viewers in Hindi as I know, you spoke it at that time!

President Karzai:
In Hindi,

CNN-IBN Reporter:
or Hindustani!

President Karzai:
In Hindi, I should say namashkar, Aadab rasy, Bharat sab se acha mulk hai.

CNN-IBN Reporter:
President Karzai! Thanks so much for speaking with us on CNN-IBN