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Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai

Overview
Hamid Karzai, GCMG  is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 in late 2001. During the December 2001 International Conference on Afghanistan in Germany, Karzai was selected by prominent Afghan political figures
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 to serve a six month term as Chairman of the Interim Administration
Afghan Interim Administration
The Afghan Interim Administration was the first administration of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime and was the highest authority of the country from 22 December 2001 until 13 July 2003.-Background:...

.

He was then chosen for a two year term as Interim President
Interim
Interim is an album by British rock band The Fall, compiled from live and studio material and released in 2004. It features the first officially released versions of "Clasp Hands", "Blindness" and "What About Us?" — all of which were later included on the band's next studio album Fall Heads Roll —...

 during the 2002 loya jirga
2002 loya jirga
An Emergency "Loya Jirga" was held in Kabul, Afghanistan between 11th and 19th June 2002 to elect a transitional administration in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Emergency Loya Jirga was called for by the Bonn Agreement. The agreement was drawn up in December 2001, in Bonn, Germany...

 (grand assembly) that was held in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.
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Encyclopedia
Hamid Karzai, GCMG  is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 in late 2001. During the December 2001 International Conference on Afghanistan in Germany, Karzai was selected by prominent Afghan political figures
Politics of Afghanistan
The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

 to serve a six month term as Chairman of the Interim Administration
Afghan Interim Administration
The Afghan Interim Administration was the first administration of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime and was the highest authority of the country from 22 December 2001 until 13 July 2003.-Background:...

.

He was then chosen for a two year term as Interim President
Interim
Interim is an album by British rock band The Fall, compiled from live and studio material and released in 2004. It features the first officially released versions of "Clasp Hands", "Blindness" and "What About Us?" — all of which were later included on the band's next studio album Fall Heads Roll —...

 during the 2002 loya jirga
2002 loya jirga
An Emergency "Loya Jirga" was held in Kabul, Afghanistan between 11th and 19th June 2002 to elect a transitional administration in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Emergency Loya Jirga was called for by the Bonn Agreement. The agreement was drawn up in December 2001, in Bonn, Germany...

 (grand assembly) that was held in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. 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
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

.

Early life


Karzai was born on 24 December 1957 in the Karz
Karz
Karz is a village in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, near the city of Kandahar. The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is from Karz....

 area of Kandahar City
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 in southern Afghanistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 of the Popalzai
Popalzai
Popalzai or Popalzay are Durrani Pashtuns.-Origin:According to Hyat Khan's history of Afghanistan, from their progenitor Bor Tareen, otherwise known as Abdal, are descended two main divisions: the Zirak and the Panjpai...

 tribe. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai
Abdul Ahad Karzai
Abdul Ahad Karzai was a politician in Afghanistan, who served as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Afghanistan under King Zahir Shah in the 1960s. He was the son of Khair Mohammad Khan and father of current Afghan President Hamid Karzai...

, served as the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament
House of the People (Afghanistan)
The House of the People or Wolesi Jirga , abbreviated WJ, is the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the House of Elders....

 during the 1960s. His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, had served in the 1919 Afghanistan's war of independence
Third Anglo-Afghan War
The Third Anglo-Afghan War began on 6 May 1919 and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. It was a minor tactical victory for the British. For the British, the Durand Line was reaffirmed as the political boundary between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British India and the Afghans agreed not to...

 and as the Deputy Speaker of the Senate
House of Elders
Mesherano Jirga or the House of Elders, is the upper house of the bicameral National Assembly of Afghanistan, alongside the Wolesi Jirga .It has 102 members...

. Karzai
Karzai
Karzai may refer to:*Abdul Ahad Karzai, father of Hamid Karzai*Ahmed Wali Karzai, half-brother of Hamid Karzai*Habibullah Karzai, uncle of Hamid Karzai*Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan*Hekmat Karzai, cousin of Hamid Karzai...

's family were strong supporters of Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

, the last king of Afghanistan. His uncle, Habibullah Karzai
Habibullah Karzai
Habibullah Khan Karzai is a powerful Afghan leader from the Popalzai clan. He is an elder and considered a leader of the Karzai family. His younger brother, Abdullah Khan Karzai was the father of President Hamid Karzai....

, served as representative of Afghanistan 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
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

.

Hamid Karzai attended Mahmood Hotaki
Mir Mahmud Hotaki
Shah Mahmud Hotaki, , also known as Mahmud Ghilzai , was an Afghan ruler of the Hotaki dynasty who defeated and overthrew the Safavid dynasty to become the king of Persia from 1722 until his death in 1725.He was the eldest son of Mirwais Hotak, the chief of the Ghilzai-Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan,...

 Elementary School in Kandahar and Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School in Kabul. He graduated from Habibia High School
Habibia High School
Habibia High School is a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, which has educated many of the former and current Afghan elite, including President Hamid Karzai and the country's most famous musician Ahmad Zahir. It was founded by King Habibullah Khan in 1903....

 in 1976. From 1979 to 1983, Karzai took a postgraduate course in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 at Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla
Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

, Himachal Pradesh, India. He is well versed in several languages, including his native tongue
First language
A first language is the language a person has learned from birth or within the critical period, or that a person speaks the best and so is often the basis for sociolinguistic identity...

 which is Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 as well as Dari (Persian)
Dari (Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

, Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

, Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, English and French.

Early career


After obtaining his Master's degree in India he moved to neighboring Pakistan to work as a fundraiser for the anti-communist mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

. The Mujahideens were backed by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Karzai was a secret contact for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) at the time. While Karzai remained in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation, his siblings emigrated to the United States.

Following the withdrawal of the Soviet's, Hamid Karzai returned to Afghanistan in early October to assist in the Mujahideen victory in Tarinkot. Hamid Karzai assisted in rallying Polpalzai Durrani tribes to oust the regime from the city as well as helped negotiate the defection of five hundred of Dr. Najib's forces.

When Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

's Soviet-backed government
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 collapsed in 1992, the Peshawar Accords agreed upon by the Afghan political parties established the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

 and appointed an interim government to be followed by general elections. Karzai accompanied the first mujahideen leaders into Kabul in 1992 following the Soviet withdrawal. He served as Deputy Foreign Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Afghanistan)
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MFA - is the Government of Afghanistan Cabinet officer responsible for managing the Foreign relations of Afghanistan.-Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan:-External links:*...

 in the government
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

 of Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

, but when he sought to bring Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 into Kabul to bring peace between him and Ahmad Shah Massoud, Karzai was jailed and beaten by the Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

. He was forced to flee from Kabul in a vehicle provided by Hekmatyar and driven by Gul Rahman
Gul Rahman
Gul Rahman was an Afghan torture victim who died in a secret CIA prison in northern Kabul.- Cause of death :He died on November 20, 2002 after being shackled to a cold cement wall in the Salt Pit.-Rescue of Hamid Karzai:...

.

When the Taliban
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 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 asked by the Taliban to serve as their ambassador but he refused, telling friends that he felt Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) was wrongly using them. He lived in Pakistan as among the Afghan refugees
Afghans in Pakistan
Afghans in Pakistan are mostly refugees who fled Afghanistan during the 1980s Soviet war as well as diplomats, traders, businesspersons, workers, exchange students, tourists and other visitors. As of March 2009, some 1.7 million registered Afghan nationals were reported to be living in Pakistan,...

, where he worked to reinstate former Afghan King Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

. On the morning of 14 July 1999, Karzai's father, Abdul Ahad Karzai
Abdul Ahad Karzai
Abdul Ahad Karzai was a politician in Afghanistan, who served as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Afghanistan under King Zahir Shah in the 1960s. He was the son of Khair Mohammad Khan and father of current Afghan President Hamid Karzai...

, was gunned down as he was 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 United Front
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

 (Northern Alliance), which was led by Ahmad Shah Massoud. In 2000 and 2001, he traveled to Europe and the United States to help gather support for the anti-Taliban movement. In a 2002 interview Karzai stated:
According to a 55-page report by the UN, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacre
Massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

s against civilians. U.N. officials stated that there had been 15 massacres between 1996 and 2001. They also said, that "these have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the Taliban Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar
Mohammed Omar
Mullah Mohammed Omar , often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title "Head of the Supreme Council"...

 himself." During the 1997–1998 battles of Mazar-i-Sharif
Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif 1997-1998
The battles of Mazar-e Sharif were a part of the Afghan Civil War and took place in 1997 and 1998 between the forces of Abdul Malik Pahlawan and his Hazara allies, Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan and the Taliban-Background:...

, about 4,000 civilians were killed by the Taliban. The documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in Taliban killings. Bin Laden's so-called 055 Brigade
055 Brigade
The 055 Brigade was an elite guerrilla organization sponsored and trained by Al Qaeda that was integrated into the Taliban army between 1995 and 2001...

 was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the United Nations quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.

As the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 were preparing for a confrontation with the Taliban in September 2001, Karzai began urging NATO nations to purge his country of Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

. "These Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s, together with their foreign supporters and the Taliban, destroyed miles and miles of homes and orchards and vineyards," he told BBC, "They have killed Afghans
Demography of Afghanistan
The population of Afghanistan is around 29,835,392 as of the year 2011, which is unclear if the refugees living outside the country are included or not. The nation is composed of a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society, reflecting its location astride historic trade and invasion routes between...

. They have trained their guns on Afghan lives... We want them out."

President and Chairman of a transitional administration




After the 7 October 2001 launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United Front
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

 (Northern Alliance) worked with teams of U.S. special forces. Together, they overthrew the Taliban regime
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was founded in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001...

 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:

In October 2001, Hamid Karzai and his group of fighters survived a friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

 missile attack by U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 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
United States Special Operations Forces
United States Special Operations Forces under United States Special Operations Command are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military...

 flew Karzai out of Afghanistan for protection.

In December 2001, political leaders gathered in Germany to agree on new leadership structures. Under the 5 December Bonn Agreement
Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
Officially the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, the Bonn Agreement was the initial series of agreements intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the...

 they formed an Interim Administration
Afghan Interim Administration
The Afghan Interim Administration was the first administration of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime and was the highest authority of the country from 22 December 2001 until 13 July 2003.-Background:...

 and named Karzai Chairman of a 29-member governing committee. He was sworn in as leader on 22 December. The loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 of 13 June 2002, appointed Karzai as Interim President of the new position as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration
Afghan Transitional Administration
The Afghan Transitional Administration was the name of a temporary administration of Afghanistan put in place by the 2002 Loya Jirga and followed the Afghan Interim Administration which was installed after the Bonn Conference.-Background:Following the US Invasion in Afghanistan, a UN sponsored...

. Former members of the Northern Alliance remained extremely influential, most notably Vice President Mohammed Fahim
Mohammed Fahim
Mohammad Qasim Fahim is an Afghan military commander, politician and the First Vice President since November 2009. He was the Defense Minister of the Afghan Transitional Administration, beginning in 2002 and also served as Vice President from June 2002 to December 2004...

, who also served as the Defense Minister.

Karzai re-enacted the original coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

 at the shrine of Sher-i-Surkh outside of Kandahar where he had leaders of various Afghan tribes, including a descendent of the religious leader (Sabir Shah) that originally selected Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747 as key players in this event. Further evidence that Karzai views himself fulfilling a Durrani
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 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
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 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 in Afghanistan through aerial spraying of chemical herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

s, fearing that it would harm the economic situation of his countrymen. Moreover, Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai was a prominent politician in Afghanistan and the younger paternal half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and son of Abdul Ahad Karzai. As an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe, he was elected to the Kandahar Provincial Council in 2005 and served as its chairman. Karzai...

 – who partially helped finance Karzai's presidential campaign – was rumored to be involved in narcotic
Narcotic
The term narcotic originally referred medically to any psychoactive compound with any sleep-inducing properties. In the United States of America it has since become associated with opioids, commonly morphine and heroin and their derivatives, such as hydrocodone. The term is, today, imprecisely...

 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 drugs.

2004 Afghan presidential election




When Karzai was a candidate in the October 2004 presidential election, he won 21 of the 34 provinces
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

, 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 officially sworn in as President of the Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 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
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

, three former U.S. presidents, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

.

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 of Afghanistan
Economy of Afghanistan
The economy of Afghanistan has improved significantly since 2002 due to the infusion of multi-billion dollars in international assistance and investments, as well as remittances from Afghan expats. It is also due to dramatic improvements in agricultural production and the end of a four-year drought...

 has been growing rapidly for the first time in many years. Government revenue began increasing every year, although it is still heavily dependent on foreign aid.
During the first term in Karzai's Presidency, public discontent grew about corruption and the civilian casualties in the 2001–present war
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. In May 2006, an anti-American and anti-Karzai riot took place in Kabul which 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 NATO operations.

In September 2006, Karzai told the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 that 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 the ongoing Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

. He has repeatedly demanded that NATO forces take more care when conducting military operations in residential areas to avoid civilian casualties. In a September 2006 video broadcast, Karzai stated that if the money wasted on the Iraq War was actually spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, his country would "be in heaven in less than one year".

2009 re-election and second term


On the eve of the 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 end 2001, from the widespread corruption and the resurgence of the (neo-)Taliban to 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
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 and widespread ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing is the illegal act of one person submitting multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is permitted. The name originates from the earliest days of this practice in which people literally did stuff more than one ballot in a ballot box at the same time...

, intimidation, and other electoral fraud
Electoral fraud
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both...

.
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
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

, withdrew from the race and election officials announced the cancellation of the run-off race
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

. 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."

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 connections to 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 both extended the political uncertainty in the government, as well as dealing 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
Valdis Zatlers
Valdis Zatlers is a Latvian politician and former physician who served as the seventh president of Latvia from 2007 to 2011. He won the Latvian presidential election of 31 May 2007...

. 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 Taliban authority, I will do it."

In December 2009 Karzai announced to move ahead with a Loya Jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 (large assembly) to discuss the Taliban insurgency
Taliban insurgency
The Taliban insurgency took root shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The Taliban continue to attack Afghan, U.S., and other ISAF troops and many terrorist incidents attributable to them have been registered. The war has also spread over the southern and...

 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
Jirga
A jirga is a tribal assembly of elders which takes decisions by consensus, particularly among the Pashtun people but also in other ethnic groups near them; they are most common in Afghanistan and among the Pashtuns in Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan...

 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.

Foreign relations




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. The United States 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
Camp David
Camp David is the country retreat of the President of the United States and his guests. It is located in low wooded hills about 60 mi north-northwest of Washington, D.C., on the property of Catoctin Mountain Park in unincorporated Frederick County, Maryland, near Thurmont, at an elevation of...

 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 currently headed by Marc Grossman
Marc Grossman
Marc Grossman is the United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He served as United States Ambassador to Turkey, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs....

. His task is to serve as a mediator
Mediator
Mediator may refer to:*A neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution, the process being known as mediation*Mediator variable in statistics*The Mediator pattern in computer science...

 and solve issues between the three nations.

Karzai's relations with neighboring Pakistan are ok, especially with the Awami National Party
Awami National Party
The Awami National Party is an Pashtun nationalist, socialist, centre-left political party in Pakistan affiliated with Socialist International...

 (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party
Pakistan Peoples Party
The Pakistan Peoples Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Pakistan affiliated with Socialist International. Pakistan People's Party is the largest political party of Pakistan...

 (PPP). He often describes his nation and Pakistan as "inseparable twin brothers", a reference to the disputed
Controversy
Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion. The word was coined from the Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus – "turned in an opposite direction," from contra – "against" – and vertere – to turn, or versus , hence, "to turn...

 Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 border between the two states. In December 2007, Karzai and his delegates travelled to Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

, Pakistan, for a usual meeting with Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 on trade ties and intelligence sharing between the two Islamic states. Karzai also met and had a 45-minute talk with Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was a democratic socialist who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996....

 on the morning of 27 December, hours before her trip to Liaquat National Bagh
Liaquat National Bagh
Liaquat National Bagh , usually just referred to as Liaquat Bagh , is a famous park on Murree Road in the city of Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan....

, 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 sworn in ceremony of Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari is the 11th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party . He is also the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who served two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister....

, who became the President of Pakistan
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

. 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 Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement in 2011, intended to improve trade.

Although the U.S. and others often charge that neighboring Iran is meddling in Afghanistan's affairs, Karzai believes that Iran is a friend despite Iranian-made weapons being found in his country.
In 2007, Karzai said that Iran, so far, has been a helper in the reconstruction process. He acknowledged in 2010 that the Government of Iran
Politics of Iran
The politics of Iran take place in a framework of theocracy guided by an Islamist ideology. The December 1979 constitution, and its 1989 amendment, define the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic of Iran, declaring that Shi'a Islam of the Twelver school of thought is...

 has 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 for good." However, just a year prior Karzai warned that, "Iran, Pakistan, and others are not fooling anyone."
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 most recently, widespread claims of electoral fraud in the 2009 Afghan presidential election
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

. 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
Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...

 and others to invest in Afghan mining 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 have helped Afghanistan massively in the past few years." While in Japan, Karzai also made his first visit to Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

 to pray for the atomic bomb victims. Japan has provided billions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan since the beginning of 2002.

Relations between Karzai and India have always been friendly, which is the place where he attended university. Afghanistan–India relations began getting stronger in 2011, especially after the death of Osama bin Laden
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

 in Pakistan. In October 2011, Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. A Sikh, he is the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian...

. During his speech at the RK Mishra Memorial in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

, 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 is for Afghanistan to benefit from the strength of India."

Assassination attempts



Many people have plotted to assassinate Karzai in the last decade, especially the Taliban's Quetta Shura
Quetta Shura
The Quetta Shura is a militant organization composed of top leadership of the Afghan Taliban, that is believed to be based since about 2001 in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001 and the...

 and the Haqqani network
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 which allegedly receives support and guidance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (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 (NDS) arrested 6 people in Kabul for planning to assassinate Karzai. Among those involved in the assassination plot were four Kabul University
Kabul University
Kabul University is located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1931 but officially opened for classes in 1932. Kabul University is currently attended by approximately 7,000 students, of which 1,700 are women. As of 2008, Hamidullah Amin is the chancellor of the 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. officials 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:
  • 27 April 2008: Insurgents, reportedly from the Haqqani network
    Haqqani network
    The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

    , used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades to attack a military parade that Karzai was attending in Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

    . 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 spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid
    Zabiullah Mujahid
    Zabiullah Mujahid is one of the self proclaimed spokesmen for the Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. He has acted as a media conduit between the isolationist rebel forces and Western media teams. He was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter...

     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.

  • 10 June 2007: The Taliban insurgents attempted to assassinate Karzai in Ghazni
    Ghazni
    For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

     where Karzai was giving a speech to elders. Insurgents fired approximately 12 rockets, some of which landed 220 yards (201.2 m) away from the crowd. Karzai was not hurt in the incident and was transported away from the location after finishing his speech.

  • 16 September 2004: An attempted assassination on Karzai took place when a rocket missed the helicopter
    Helicopter
    A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

     he was flying in while en route to the city of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.

  • 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
    Afghan National Army
    The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

     opened fire, wounding Gul Agha Sherzai
    Gul Agha Sherzai
    Gul Agha Sherzai is the current Governor of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.He previously served as Governor of Kandahar province, in the early 1990s and from 2001 until 2003.-Biography:...

     (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. Recently, some pictures of the US Navy's DEVGRU
    United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
    The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

     responding to the attempt have surfaced.

Personal and tribal lineage


In 1999, Hamid Karzai married Zeenat Quraishi
Zeenat Karzai
Dr. Zenat Quraishi Karzai is the wife of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the current First Lady of Afghanistan. She is an ethnic Pashtun and approximately 39 years old. Originally from the city of Kandahar, she moved to Kabul where she currently lives at the Presidential Palace with her husband...

, an obstetrician by profession who was working as a doctor with Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. They have a son, Mirwais, who was born on 25 January 2007. 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 or property.

Karzai has six brothers, including Mahmood Karzai
Mahmood Karzai
Mahmood Karzai is a businessman and brother of Hamid Karzai, the current president of Afghanistan.He was previously a restauranteur in San Francisco, Boston and Baltimore....

 and Quayum Karzai
Quayum Karzai
Abdul Qayum Karzai is President Hamid Karzai's older brother, a businessman and a former member of the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan's National Assembly.-Family:...

, who are both Afghan American
Afghan American
An Afghan American refers to an American with heritage or origins in Afghanistan.-History and population:Afghan Americans have a long history of immigrating to the United States, as they may have arrived as early as the 1920s...

 restaurant owners in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area of the United States, as well as Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai was a prominent politician in Afghanistan and the younger paternal half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and son of Abdul Ahad Karzai. As an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe, he was elected to the Kandahar Provincial Council in 2005 and served as its chairman. Karzai...

, deceased, who was the representative for the southern Afghanistan region. Quayum is also the founder of the Afghans for a Civil Society in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. Karzai has one sister, Fauzia Karzai, who is the manager of Helmand restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

. The family owns and operates several successful Afghan restaurants in the East Coast of the United States
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 as well as in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

.

In initial biographical news reporting, there was confusion regarding his clan lineage; it was written that his paternal lineage derived from the Sadozai
Sadozai (Pastun tribe)
Sadozai meaning "kings" are the direct lineage of Ahmad Shah Abdali. All the notable Sadozai Durrani Afghan kings and rulers belonedg to the Sadozai tribe....

 clan. This confusion might have arisen from sources stating he was chosen as the head, or Khan
Khan (title)
Khan is an originally Altaic and subsequently Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes living to the north of China. 'Khan' is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289...

 of the Popalzai. Traditionally, the Popalzai tribe has been led by members of the Sadozais. The first King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shah Durrani , also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose...

, was the leader of the Sadozais, and the Sadozai lineage continued to rule Afghanistan until 1826 when the Barakzai
Barakzai
- History :Barakzai is a common ethnic name among the Pashtuns of Afghanistan/Pakistan and it means . Barakzai is also a Pashtun tribe in Pakistan, and more predominantly, in Afghanistan...

s ascended to the throne.

Karzai is believed to be from the Shamizai subtribe of the Popalzais. His grandfather, Khair Muhammad Karzai, was head of the 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



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
    Commemorative
    Commemorative may refer to:*Commemorative coin*United States Commemorative Coin*Commemorative issue - a special edition of a book, magazine, or other item released around, or in memory of, a special event or occurrence.*Commemorative stamp...

     medal
    Medal
    A medal, or medallion, is generally a circular object that has been sculpted, molded, cast, struck, stamped, or some way rendered with an insignia, portrait, or other artistic rendering. A medal may be awarded to a person or organization as a form of recognition for athletic, military, scientific,...

    lion of the 11 September 2001 attacks from the United States House of Representatives
    United States House of Representatives
    The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

    , presented to him by member of the house Jack Kingston
    Jack Kingston
    One of the counties he represents is Wheeler County.John Heddens "Jack" Kingston is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Republican Party.- Early life, education and career:...

     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
    The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

     by Queen Elizabeth II.
  • On 4 July 2004, Karzai was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal
    Philadelphia Liberty Medal
    The Liberty Medal is an annual award administered by the National Constitution Center of the United States to recognize leadership in the pursuit of freedom. It was originally founded by The Philadelphia Foundation. In 2006 an agreement was made with the National Constitution Center that the NCC...

     in 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 University
    Boston University
    Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

    .
  • On 25 May 2005, received an honorary degree from the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska — Omaha
    University of Nebraska at Omaha
    The University of Nebraska at Omaha is a four-year state university located in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Founded in 1908 as Omaha University, the institution became the public Municipal University of Omaha in 1931. It assumed its current name in 1968 following a merger into the University...

    .
  • On 25 September 2006, received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Georgetown University
    Georgetown University
    Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

    .

Controversy


The main areas of criticism surrounding President Karzai involve corruption/nepotism, electoral fraud, and the involvement of his late half brother Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai was a prominent politician in Afghanistan and the younger paternal half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and son of Abdul Ahad Karzai. As an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe, he was elected to the Kandahar Provincial Council in 2005 and served as its chairman. Karzai...

 in the drug trade. 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. Afghanistan is currently ranked as the second most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. Furthermore, there is the issue of electoral fraud, which has reached such a level that Afghanistan's status as a democratic state is questionable. In fact, a special court set up personally by Karzai in defiance of constitutional norms has sought to reinstate dozens of candidates who were removed for fraud in the 2010 parliamentary elections by the Independent Electoral Commission.
In addition to these issues, there is also the matter of the drug trade. Afghanistan supplies most of the world's opium, and its current production exceeds world demand, creating vast stockpiles of the drug. At the center of this trade was the half brother of President Karzai, Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai was a prominent politician in Afghanistan and the younger paternal half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and son of Abdul Ahad Karzai. As an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe, he was elected to the Kandahar Provincial Council in 2005 and served as its chairman. Karzai...

.

Unocal connection


There's been much debate over Karzai's alleged consultant work with Unocal (Union Oil Company of California since acquired by Chevron
Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...

 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
Le Monde
Le Monde is a French daily evening newspaper owned by La Vie-Le Monde Group and edited in Paris. It is one of two French newspapers of record, and has generally been well respected since its first edition under founder Hubert Beuve-Méry on 19 December 1944...

, Barry Lane UNOCAL's manager for public relations states that, "He was never a consultant, never an employee. We've exhaustively searched through all our records."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.}} Lane however did say that Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Mamozy Khalilzad is a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and president of Khalilzad Associates, an international business consulting firm based in Washington, DC. He was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush...

, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador...

, was a Unocal consultant in the mid-1990s.

See also

  • List of current heads of state and government
  • List of presidents of Afghanistan
  • Politics of Afghanistan
    Politics of Afghanistan
    The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...

  • Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
    Afghan Peace Jirga 2010
    The Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the holding of a consultative grand council called the Afghanistan's National Consultative Peace Jirga or shortly Peace Jirga in his inauguration speech on 19 November 2009, after winning elections for a second term, to end the ongoing Taliban insurgency...


External links