Transcript of President Karzai's Interview with Chinese CCTV and Xinhua News Agency

28 September, 2013
Beijing, China

CCTV: Mr. President, thank you very much for being with us, it is a pleasure to have you,

President Karzai: The pleasure is mine,

CCTV: Tell us about your trip to Tianjin and especially this trip to China, are you satisfied of what you have achieved so far in the past few days?

President Karzai: Well, this was a full trip by all accounts, I went to Xi’an and then I came to Beijing and then I went to Tianjin. In Xi’an, I attended the Eruo-Asia economic forum and went to Terracotta military prisons of the soldiers of nearly 2000 years ago, it was an amazing site, a reflection on China as a great heritage, great past and then yesterday in Beijing met with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang and had complete talks on a range of issues between Afghanistan and China, the regional situation, Afghanistan’s international relations, relations with NATO and America, and I found out to my very happiness and pleasure that China and Afghanistan not only have expanded bilateral ties but do have commonality of views on regional and international issues. We also discussed China’s contribution to the Afghan peace process, China’s contribution to the improved relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Chinese assistance to Afghanistan in economic, social and military-security areas, so it was a complete visit, and this morning, the Bullet train, the fast train to Tianjin, a lovely city , we went to the museum, we went to the opera house, to the area where the city has created for public to visit and walk around, the fountains there, a lovely city,

CCTV: Culturally rich city,

President Karzai: Culturally very rich city,

CCTV: While you mentioned about the peace process in your country and also after meetings with Chinese leaders yesterday, you mentioned that China has always been an anchor of peace and stability in the peace process in Afghanistan, so tell us exactly how China has contributed to the peace process in your country?

President Karzai: Well, China has been a very stable neighbor of ours, meaning that China has provided all the assistance and help and advice towards enhancing stability in Afghanistan and the region, China has been a good neighbor , helpful neighbor and at the same time, very important, a very wise neighbor, it has understood Afghanistan’s special circumstances, Afghanistan’s needs and it has adopted its policies towards Afghanistan and its peace process keeping in mind its special needs and situation of Afghanistan and towards that end in mind, China has contributed in a very significant but in a quiet way to the peace process in Afghanistan and in enhancing the relations between us and our neighbor Pakistan.

CCTV: But security remains a concern in Afghanistan and that concerns Chinese investors of three billion dollars project in the copper mine, south of Kabul. The contract has been signed, however, the work has stopped putting the much needed money and drops on hold, so how is that being addressed during your talks with Chinese leaders, any timetable as to when the project will resume?

President Karzai: Yes, the copper mine is a major project, it is one of the biggest mines in the world, and China has invested heavily in this copper mine, its security plus other issues that China has about the copper mine, there is a cultural historic site there as well, very old one that we have to clear out from the area and we are negotiating with our Chinese counterparts on how soon and how effectively to begin production in that copper mine, so we don’t see a major problem there,

CCTV: Right, as you mentioned earlier that Afghanistan is very rich in terms of natural resources, according to a recent report, Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on a one trillion dollar worth of gold, copper mine, iron ore and other minerals, so what is lacking here, there is a huge potential, but what lacking here? Is it security or do you see this as an exaggeration?

President Karzai: Well, the real resource wealth of Afghanistan is, to the conservative estimates that we have, from one to three trillion dollars, our minister of mines and the experts that we have from the past calculate a lot more, but we don’t talk about that, we right now speak about nearly three trillion dollars of Afghan natural resources, its overall underdevelopment because of the past thirty years of troubles, just now investors from abroad have begun to come, the Chinese were the first and then came companies from India and now again China is showing a new interest in Afghan petroleum products, so investors are coming in, especially of attention to the investors, and I would like to inform the Chinese investors as well, is the afghan rare earth material that is there in our country, that is the core of the resource wealth is, so investors are welcome, why have we not had investment in the country precisely because Afghanistan was in turmoil for so many years, now that we are settling down, now that increasing stability is coming, we see more investors arriving,

CCTV: And now let’s move on to the bulk of the issue, the security question, we understand that NATO has handing over the security control for the past two years and the process was completed in June when the last district moved to full Afghan combat lead, so what is the current situation now?

President Karzai: We are going to complete the process of transition to Afghan authority in a few more months, and next year in 2014, the bulk of the international forces, the NATO and American and ISAF will leave Afghanistan, Afghanistan will be completely on its own and at the same time we have raised the capability of the afghan forces. We today have a 350,000 military and security force presence in Afghanistan, somehow properly equipped for the situation, we are increasing our training, we have also had yesterday promise by President Xi Jinping of China for providing military support to Afghanistan when I requested this, and in response to my request, so Afghanistan is on the move ahead towards being able to independently provide support to the country for security and for defense of the country. Now, at the same time, Afghanistan is negotiating with the United States and NATO a long-term presence by them for at least ten years, in the form of a security agreement with the United States, so security is a lot better in the country than it was before, security institutions are stronger in the country than they were before, and we are glad in here especially of particular importance to Chinese people is to know that the government of China understands our situation and has backed our efforts in this regard and will provide us military and security assistance and training,

CCTV: Well, you mentioned about military, the security agreement with the US and NATO allowing their long presence in your country, so what do the people of Afghanistan think about these agreements?

President Karzai: Well, the Afghan people want to be on their own, they want to have their own soldiers, their own sons and daughters providing security for the country like any other nation and Afghanistan is a very proud nation and it has never accepted a foreign force in our country before, this time the Afghans accepted it because of very particular circumstances,

CCTV: What is that particular circumstances?

President Karzai: Terrorism in Afghanistan, the presence of Al qaeda, the atrocities of the Taliban in Afghanistan, so the Afghan people welcomed the international community because this was a unanimous decision by the international community to provide support to Afghanistan. Now, in that context, we accepted the international presence and if we accept a further presence of the United States or NATO, it will be only when the Afghans agree to it and our neighbors understand it and accept it, and that is how it is evolving,

CCTV: How necessary is that presence for your people, for your forces and your government?

President Karzai: Well, in terms of providing us further training, it is good, in terms of providing us equipment, it is good and in terms of it being accepted by our neighbors, it is important, and we also see that our neighbors contribute to what NATO and American give us,

CCTV: And we understand that over years, Afghan forces have become much more professional, greater in size, competiveness, so are they ready to deal with insurgents on their own after the NATO pulls out?

President Karzai: So far they have been able to do it well, this year we conducted our operations entirely on our own and we defended the country on our own, of course we had tragic loss of lives to Afghan forces and civilians and unfortunately also to the insurgents, we don’t want anybody dying, that is how life unfortunately is right now in Afghanistan, but we have been able to do that on our own and quite well,

CCTV: And also the NATO operation in your country is being assessed in different ways, some agree that it does indeed have reduced Alqaeda’s threats in the country, while some argue that civilian casualties have been on the rise, sharp rise, even though the figure has come down in 2012 last year, the first half of this year has seen an increase of 24% increase, so what is your response to the two sides of this argument?

President Karzai: Well, we are of the view that while the NATO, the American and other international presence in Afghanistan has contributed to the progress of Afghanistan to education and health and all other areas of services in Afghanistan, it has not provided Afghanistan or the region with an effective campaign against terrorism, so it is light in behind and to put it very bluntly, it is ineffective as far as the war on terror is concerned, as far as bringing security to Afghanistan and the larger region is concerned, civilian casualties in the consequence of that has been the biggest source of tension between us and NATO and other countries,

CCTV: Is that also a biggest fear to the afghan people?

President Karzai: Definitely it is, it is a daily theme between me and the US forces and NATO countries, we are not against the war on terror, we are not against the campaign against terrorism, but the campaign against terrorism should not be at the cost of civilian lives in Afghanistan, rather we believe that fighting terrorism must bring more protection to the afghan people rather than causing civilian

CCTV: Now Mr. President, let’s talk about Taliban, many observers believe that peace in Afghanistan will only come if the government negotiates with the Taliban, do you agree with that?
President Karzai: Absolutely,

CCTV: And what is the Taliban trying to achieve, are they interested in sharing power or taking power?

President Karzai: Well, taking power is impossible for them, Afghanistan has moved forward, there are eight million children going to school now, at least 34 to 40% of them girls, we have now from only 2 to 3 universities in 2001 to nearly 35 universities and many more private universities, places of higher learning, in which close to 25 % are women, women are in the workforce, women are in the media, women are in the society, women are in the parliament, the economy has moved forward, the country has moved forward, the society has moved forward, the Taliban don’t offer anything in that regard, so taking power is neither possible nor good for Afghanistan, as afghans, of course they have the right to come and be in their own country, those who are afghans have the right to come back and be part of their country to contribute to the well-being of their country, to educate their own children and allow other children to go to school and be part of the government through the processes that Afghanistan has adopted through the Constitution of Afghanistan and if they have objections to any part of the afghan Constitution, let them raise that objection and let the Afghan people decide whether any aspects of the Constitution should be amended or not,

CCTV: Well, many say that the year 2014 will mark a year of uncertainty for Afghanistan, because we are seeing NATO troops stepping out of the Afghan soil, and at the same time, we are going to see the election of a new President leading the country through this transition, so what is your take on this?

President Karzai: Ma’am, this negative speculation about 2014 has mostly been driven by the western media, mostly driven by the western media, by the American media in particular, maybe because they wanted to show us to be in need of them, it didn’t work well in Afghanistan and we have reminded US and European officials that it is not good, there is no fear in Afghanistan after 2014, Afghanistan has been there for thousands of years, Afghanistan will continue to be there for thousands of years, the Afghans have managed their affairs in the past, we fell under very particularly troublesome circumstances, where we were then in need of support from outside, we welcome that support, but the absence of that support will not be the end of a society in Afghanistan or a country in Afghanistan, so Afghanistan will continue to be a country, Afghanistan will continue to have a government, Afghanistan will continue to have progress, yes! Do we need support from the West, and from our neighbors and from China? Of course! Will it be helpful? Of course! Will life be difficult for us without that support? Yes! But that will not be the end of life.

CCTV: So, you are certain that there will be no great deal of insurgency facing Afghans?

President Karzai: No, not at all, definitely not.

CCTV: And also Mr. President! at the beginning of this year, you made some harsh remarks on US troops operating in Afghanistan, what angered you? Did their operations in your country run contrary to your sovereignty?

President Karzai: Well, there are issues with civilian casualties, with violation of Afghan sovereignty, with conducting operations in the areas where it is not necessary, where the use of firepower not necessary at all, those were the differences that we had and I have been talking to the US government and other countries in NATO and ISAF about this , there are now improvements , it’s better now , we wish it to be completely over and we wish it to be completely owned by Afghanistan and its forces.

CCTV: Let’s talk a little more about Afghan-China relations, the two countries have so many things to work on together, for example in the fight against terrorism, anti-drug trafficking and also exportation, so what would you prioritize?

President Karzai: In the China-Afghanistan relations?


President Karzai: In the China-Afghanistan relations, our priorities are :
Strengthening our political and economic relations; Strengthening exchanges between our people; culture, trade and coordination in the region and international organizations that has been achieved; I have visited China five times now and I hope there will soon be visits by Chinese leaders to Afghanistan, So China and Afghanistan have become strategic partners and have a deep relationship and I can tell you with confidence that this relationship is on a confident, positive path towards further strengthening and deepening.

CCTV: And Mr. President , let’s talk a little bit more about the Presidential elections, it’s due next April but the Taliban is ready to be fighting , actually it caused a deceiving drama and they killed a head of the electoral Commission, what is your response to that?

President Karzai: Well, they don’t believe in elections, they believe that elections is taking Afghanistan further to stability, and that the peace and stability is not good for them, unfortunately that is what they don’t like, but we will move forward, we have had casualties in the past in our efforts towards stability and we will take more casualties but we will not abandon our course towards stability and progress.

CCTV: And you have been leading Afghanistan for twelve years and your tenure runs parallel to NATO operation , and you are about to leave office next year, that the peace process is yet to complete, are you satisfied with what you have achieved, do you think your country has come to a point where you hoped it would be?

President Karzai: In some ways, yes, in some ways, no, I am happy that we have much strong education , I am happy about very strong relationship, I am happy about the relationship we have with China , strong , good, fundamental ,getting stronger and I am happy with what we have achieved internationally, in health services and also in economy, in the growth of GDP and the growth of income per capita but I am not happy with the security situation in Afghanistan, I wish we had peace early on, I wish there were no civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

CCTV: We understand that leaving a good name is considered a virtue in Afghanistan; after you leave office, what kind of legacy do you wish to leave?

President Karzai: Leaving a good name is a virtue everywhere not only in Afghanistan, everybody wants to have a good name; I want to have a good name too, sure. But let that be decided after I am no longer the President, let the people decide that and let the history judge that.

CCTV: Thank you so much, Mr. President!

President Karzai: Thank you, ma’am, good to talk to you! Thank you!

CCTV: It’s my pleasure.

President Karzai: Very pleasure, ma’am, thank you!

Interview with Xinhua
Xinhua: Thank you, Mr. President for sharing with us your time, I will cut to the point.

President Karzai: Ok!

Xinhua: How would you like to comment on the relationship between China and Afghanistan since the two countries have decided to establish strategic partnership and cooperation?

President Karzai: This year, this visit of mine proved with great certainty that China and Afghanistan have developed strong relationship based on commonality of interests between the two countries, based also very importantly on the wisdom of the Chinese leaders and of the recognition of the special Afghan situation, so I am happy with this relationship and so are the Afghan people.

Xinhua: So, thank you! We also know that some Chinese businessmen are operating in Afghanistan and this is a very integral part of our bilateral relationship, we also know the security problems are there, what kind of measures the Afghan government take to ensure the safety and protect the Chinese investments there?

President Karzai: We will and we have, we have and we will take all the measures necessary to provide Chinese investors a conducive, profitable environment in Afghanistan for business, we also where it is necessary will provide security to the Chinese businesses, so through this interview, I would like to convey to the Chinese people and their businesses that Afghanistan is a good destination for business, that they should come and invest.

Xinhua: Thank you very much and during the last few days, you have travelled around in China, so what is your impression of China?

President Karzai: Well, a broad scope of impression from the great history and culture of China to the depth of Chinese culture and civilization, especially in your ability to preserve it and now show it to the world and the current achievements of development, of a heightened better standards of living for the Chinese people, the two combined give China a great future as you move forward.

Xinhua: Ok, thank you! You prefer, do you have a certain message for us, the Chinese people?

President Karzai: A message of gratitude for the good friendship, the good neighborliness, for the support that China has provided Afghanistan and a message that Afghanistan will be a trusted neighbor and partner.

Xinhua: Thank you very much!

President Karzai: Thank you so much! Good to talk to you!