Hamid Karzai: Trump must "walk the talk" on Pakistan's terrorism
Former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai called upon US president Donald Trump to "walk the talk" about curbing Pakistan's support to terrorist outfits. Earlier, Trump had pulled up Pakistan for giving "safe haven to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan." Karzai was speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Apart from discussing international politics, he also shared personal anecdotes. Here's all about the interaction.
Karzai candidly responded to author William Dalrymple's questions. He claimed that when he first came to India in 1976, Delhi was more conservative than Kabul. This statement was surprising since Afghanistan was under Taliban at that time. He revealed that he went to study in Shimla because he couldn't stand Delhi's heat. Shimla's weather was cooler, closer to Kabul's cold.
In the free-wheeling chat, Karzai said he was familiar with "Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Hema Malini... Songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Rafi." He said Indian cinema is popular in Afghanistan; Pakistanis also go there to watch Indian movies. About whether he picked up Hindi during his student days, Karzai replied "Kuch kuch bol leta hoon" and then he sang an old Hindi song.
Karzai also spoke of the resistance against the Soviet occupation and Taliban. He was studying in Shimla when he came to know that Soviet forces had invaded Afghanistan. He returned to his country and joined Mujahideen in a political role. After Soviet defeat, he admitted that he too supported Taliban. But, after realizing that they were abusing Afghan culture, he spoke of resisting them.
He also spoke of his problems with US policy. He said, "My opposition to the US was they were hurting Afghanistan by bombing our country and by ignoring the sanctuaries outside our country hurting us." He blamed US for promoting extremism in Afghanistan to defeat Soviet Union. About Pakistan, he said Taliban was being nurtured by ISI, which couldn't have happened without CIA support.
About widespread opium production and narcotics trade, Karzai blamed "foreign countries." He blamed the western media for "bringing out the negatives of Afghanistan" and ignoring the positives. He also claimed that "It was a tool to pressurise me by the American government." Regarding the excessive corruption allegations, he said Afghanistan is as corrupt as any other country. For this too, he blamed US contractors.
Finally, Karzai hoped that Afghanistan's strong relations with India would continue. He had a message for Indian youth: "You are inherently a peace and freedom loving and tolerant country. Ustad Bismillah Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan were originally from Afghanistan. But India gave one the shehnai and the other the voice. Cherish that and keep sharing it with the rest of the world."