Karzai, Hamid


Karzai, Hamid
▪ 2002

      The U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, launched in October 2001, produced dramatic military results before a political framework for reconstructing the country could be established. By mid-November the Taliban regime had collapsed, and there were fears that a destructive power struggle might break out among Afghanistan's conflicting ethnic, religious, and political communities. Talks were hastily arranged in Bonn, Ger., under the auspices of the United Nations; they were to include representatives of the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance as well as factions still loyal to the former Afghan king, Zahir Shah. Agreement was reached on December 5 that Hamid Karzai should chair an interim administration for six months, until a Loya Jirga, a traditional Afghan assembly, could be convened. Karzai was a tribal leader (but not a warlord), educated, fluent in Western and Eastern languages, and, above all, known and trusted in the U.S.

      Karzai was born on Dec. 24, 1957, in Kandahar, Afg., son of the chief of the Popalzai Pashtuns. Both his father and his grandfather had served the government of Zahir Shah from the 1930s until he was overthrown in 1973. Under the Soviet-imposed regime in the 1980s, the Karzai family left Afghanistan and settled in Pakistan. Karzai attended university in India, and during the Soviet occupation he worked in Pakistan with the Liberation Front of Sibgatullah Mojaddedi. When the communist government of Mohammad Najibullah fell in April 1992, the mujahideen established a coalition government under Mojaddedi's presidency, and Karzai served as deputy foreign minister. He continued in this position when Burhanuddin Rabbani became president. At this point the mujahideen turned on one another, causing tens of thousands of deaths and countrywide turmoil. In 1994 Karzai again left the country.

      Like most Afghans, Karzai was at first optimistic when the Taliban appeared and brought a kind of order to Afghanistan. The Taliban, although they were mostly ethnic Pashtun, had no sympathy for the traditional social and political institutions to which Karzai remained faithful, however. For his part, Karzai opposed the influence that the Pakistanis and other foreigners exerted over the Taliban. Karzai blamed the Taliban when his father was assassinated in July 1999 near the family home in Quetta, Pak. The leadership of the Popalzai now fell to him.

      As the U.S. began bombing, Karzai entered southern Afghanistan to rally support against the Taliban. Then he received the call from Germany. He immediately began negotiating the surrender of Kandahar with local Taliban leaders and moved into the compound formerly occupied by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

      At ceremonies in late December in Kabul, attended by the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers, Karzai and his cabinet were sworn in before a gathering of representatives from most of Afghanistan's ethnic and tribal groups. In his address Karzai spoke in both Pashtu and Dari and wore an Uzbek robe. Behind the platform hung an enormous portrait of the late Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Masoud. The few women present—including two cabinet members—wore head scarfs, not burqas. A smiling Rabbani embraced Karzai and wished him success.

Stephen Sego

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▪ president of Afghanistan
born December 24, 1957, Kandahār, Afghanistan
 
 Afghan politician who was the first elected president of Afghanistan (2004– ).

      Karzai was the son of the chief of the Popalzai Pashtuns, and both his father and grandfather served in the government of Mohammad Zahir Shah (Zahir Shah, Mohammad). Under the Soviet-imposed regime in the 1980s, the Karzai family left Afghanistan and settled in Pakistan. Karzai attended Himachal Pradesh University in India, earning a master's degree (1982) in political science. During the Afghan War, he worked with the mujahideen, who sought to overthrow the Soviet-backed government, and often traveled to the United States to seek support for the cause. When the communist government of Mohammad Najibullah (Najibullah, Mohammad) fell in April 1992, the mujahideen established a coalition government, with Karzai serving as deputy foreign minister. In 1994, however, he resigned, tired of the infighting within the government. The growing strife escalated until the mujahideen turned on one another, and in the ensuing turmoil, the Taliban, an ultraconservative political and religious faction, came to power.

      Although initially supportive of the Taliban and the order that it introduced to the country, Karzai came to oppose the regime and again went into exile in Pakistan. In July 1999 his father was assassinated, an act that he blamed on the Taliban, and leadership of the Popalzai passed to Karzai. Shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, the United States led a military campaign to topple the Taliban and to capture terrorists that were based in the country. Karzai returned to Afghanistan to rally support for the U.S.-led mission, and by mid-November the Taliban regime had collapsed. To avert a destructive power struggle, representatives from various Afghan groups, aided by the international community, named Karzai chair of an interim administration; he was sworn into office in late December 2001. In June 2002 a Loya Jirga, a traditional Afghan assembly, chose Karzai as president of a transitional government.

      Karzai faced numerous challenges, including controlling the country's powerful traditional leaders and preventing the Taliban from recovering power. He also sought to rebuild the war-torn country. Violence continued to plague Afghanistan, and Karzai was the target of several assassination attempts. In January 2004 a new constitution was approved that called for a directly elected president. Later that year Karzai won the presidential election and was sworn into office.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Karzai, Hamid — ► (n. 1957) Político afgano. Líder pashto moderado. En 2001 fue nombrado presidente del gobierno interino de Afganistán. En 2004 venció en las primeras elecciones presidenciales del país posteriores al régimen talibán …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Karzai — Karzai, Hamid …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hamid Karsai — Hamid Karzai (* 24. Dezember 1957 in Karz nahe Kandahar/Afghanistan; alternative Schreibweise: Hamid Karsai), auf Paschtu: ‏حامد كرزي‎, ist seit 2004 Präsident von Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai im Weißen Haus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hamid Karzai — حامد کرزي Presidente de Afganistán …   Wikipedia Español

  • Hamid Karzaï — حامد کرزي 8e président de la République islamique d Afghanistan …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Hamid Karzai — Infobox President name = Hamid Steven Karzai حامد کرزي caption = Karzai in 14 June 2004 order = President of Afghanistan vicepresident = Ahmad Zia Massoud (First V.P.) Karim Khalili (Second V.P.) term start = 22 December 2001 Acting until 7… …   Wikipedia

  • Hamid Karzai — im Weißen Haus Hamid Karzai (* 24. Dezember 1957 in Karz nahe Kandahar/Afghanistan; alternative Schreibweise: Hamid Karsai), auf Paschtu: ‏حامد كرزي‎, ist seit 2001 Präsident von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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