Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that while Afghanistan was more secure today than a year ago, the economy was a “disaster” and that it was time for the US to “correct it’s mistakes”.
In an interview with NPR this week, Karzai discussed the current situation in the country and the events of August 15 last year.
He said at the time of the collapse of the former government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), he had feared for his safety, but not because of the IEA but because of external forces.
“The Taliban (IEA) are Afghans. They belong to this country. We know them, they know us. I felt external forces, and feared that more,” Karzai said, mentioning foreign countries and elements within Pakistan, in particular, NPR reported.
According to Karzai, he stayed and met with IEA leaders, and said that they all seemed to want the same thing: a peaceful and progressing Afghanistan.
“In terms of [an] end to widespread fighting and conflict, we are happy — there’s more stability, there’s more security,” Karzai said.
“But in terms of Afghanistan having a government that all Afghan people find themselves [in], we still have a way to go. In terms of the economy of the country, it’s a disaster. In terms of Afghans leaving their own country, it’s a huge disaster and a shame upon us. And this is something that the Taliban IIEA) have to address.”
Karzai told NPR the IEA acknowledges that there are problems, and that the US made “immense mistakes” in Afghanistan.
NPR reported that he is still angry about civilian casualties during the war, saying the US bombed the wrong people so often that he refuses to believe it was a mistake.
Karzai also spoke out about the chaotic withdrawal of troops and said it had been “very dishonorable.” Families were separated amidst the chaos, and some Afghans desperate to evacuate clung to a military plane as it took off. At least two people fell to their deaths, which Karzai called a “disgrace to both of us.”
He told NPR there were things the US could do to help the Afghan people now, including unfreezing the country’s financial reserves.
“I need for the United States government to correct its mistakes in Afghanistan, to help the Afghan people stand back on their feet,” he said.
Karzai also told NPR he had met IEA leaders, all of whom had expressed a desire for better relations with the US.
But he said there were things the IEA must do first to gain trust and make progress within their own country.
“We must make sure that all the Afghan people see themselves belonging to this country and represented by the government, and that we take all the necessary steps to prove to the rest of the world that we mean well for Afghanistan,” he said.
He also said girls’ education was an issue and said he was worried the ban sets the whole country back. He warned that “a decade from now we’ll be worse than what we are now.”
NPR reported that Karzai feels there are many reasons why the IEA should take steps to prove to the world that they are trying to better the country.
“That will also make it easier for someone like me to go into the international community and say, ‘Well, we’re now on the right path towards a better future and deserve support,’” he said.
But Karzai can’t go out into the international community, even if he wanted to. He said he had asked the IEA for permission to travel abroad for several functions and events, but had always been denied, NPR reported.
As they explained it to Karzai the first time, they are honored that he is in Afghanistan and fear that things will fall apart if he doesn’t come back. He said they all knew that he would come back.