Karzai slams U.S., Pakistan in farewell speech
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[September 23, 2014]
KABUL (Reuters) - Outgoing Afghan
President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday blamed the United States for his
country's long war, a final swipe at the country that helped bring him
to power 13 years ago but towards which he has become increasingly
His farewell speech came days ahead of the planned swearing in of
a new president, Ashraf Ghani, after months of potentially violent
crisis over a disputed election that ended in a power-sharing deal,
yet to be tested, with rival Abdullah Abdullah.
Karzai blamed both the United States and neighboring Pakistan for
the continuing war with the Taliban-led insurgency and warned the
new government to be "be extra cautious in relations with the U.S.
and the West".
The conflict kills thousands of Afghans each year and has claimed
the lives of more than 2,200 American and other international forces
"One of the reasons was that the Americans did not want peace
because they had their own agenda and objectives," Karzai said. He
did not elaborate, but in the past has suggested continued violence
has been an excuse for the United States to keep bases in the
He also accused Pakistani power players of trying to control
Afghanistan's foreign policy.
"Today, I tell you again that the war in Afghanistan is not our war,
but imposed on us and we are the victims," Karzai said. "No peace
will arrive unless the U.S. or Pakistan want it."
In recent years, Karzai has sharply denounced the United States for
the deaths of Afghan civilians in air strikes and for holding
suspected Afghan militants prisoner without trial. The relationship
deteriorated to near breaking point this year, when Karzai refused
to sign a key security pact with the United States.
He said he had traveled to Pakistan, where much of the Taliban's
leadership is believed to be based, at least 20 times seeking a
negotiated end to the war, but his efforts were thwarted.
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Neither the U.S. nor the Pakistani embassies in Kabul had immediate
comment on Karzai's speech.
Karzai has been in power since 2001 after being plucked from virtual
obscurity by the United States following the overthrow of the
Taliban's radical Islamist government for sheltering al Qaeda's
terrorist leadership after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.
The deterioration of his relationship with the West was seen by some
as an effort to shape his legacy as an independent leader rather
than a U.S. puppet as maintained by the Taliban.
Karzai was barred by the constitution from running for a third term
(Reporting by Kay Johnson; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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