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If you like His Excellency Hamid Karzai's story, you might also like:
George H.W. Bush,
Benazir Bhutto
Jimmy Carter,
Khaled Hosseini,
William McRaven,
Greg Mortenson,
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Hamid Karzai

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Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
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Hamid Karzai Interview (page: 2 / 7)

Former President of Afghanistan

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  Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai Interview Photo
The next morning he brought me a taxi -- the taxi driver was his cousin -- and the taxi drove us towards central Afghanistan. Nobody recognized us. We had all sorts of tricks to disguise ourselves. We went to Uruzgan, a province in the center of Afghanistan, and spent one night there.

I contacted a friend in a village near there. I said, "I'm here in your province, in your provincial capital. I would like to come and have dinner with you this evening and I would like you to invite so and so and so and so." I mentioned three tribal chiefs. He sent me back a message through his son saying, "For God's sake, don't travel during the day time. Come to us on foot, and I will send somebody to show you the way."

We set out on foot and we went through mountains and through villages and a lot of times the man would go very far away from the straight path, and I would ask why. "Why are you doing that? There is nobody here." He said, "There is a group there," or "There is a house there. If they hear our footsteps, they will come out to search, and if they see we are 11 people, they will suspect and they will arrest us."

Just thinking that we might be arrested made him change the road four or five kilometers. We arrived at that man's house. We had dinner. I saw disbelief in him, total shock in him that I was there and that I was trying to organize a resistance against the Taliban. The others came to see us secretly there, after everybody went out of the house, we were alone, the four of us.

This mullah, the clergy said, "Hamid, you are here to remove the Taliban." I said, "Yes." He said, "Yes, you have been talking about this for years now. But how can you remove them?" I said, "Well you know, people hate them." He said, "Yes, surely people hate them." I said, "Well, so let's get together and fight them. There are only about 60 or 70 of them at the capital, at the provincial capital." And then this mullah told me, "You really want to fight them?" I said, "Yes." Then he got closer to me a little bit. Then he got more closer to me, and said, "I want you -- if you really want to defeat the Taliban -- I want you to ask the United States to send some planes to bomb the Governor's house and to bomb the military command office." I was totally shocked. I said, "Mr. So-and-so, how shameful of you. I am shocked that you are asking me to ask the U.S. planes to come and bomb my country." He said, "Well then, you are not serious. If you are serious, you ask the U.S. to come and help us and win this war against terrorism. If you don't, you are not serious. They are going to kill our people. You are working for terrorism and you leave this place."

Hamid Karzai Interview Photo
I told this man that I could not do this. He said, "Well, if you cannot do this, then you better leave, because I'm not going to allow you to kill my children and woman because of your desire to defeat the Taliban with the two or three guns that we have. We cannot do that. I said, "I have some money. We will buy about 15 guns and do that." He said, "No." That was the strongest indication that the Afghan people were adamantly trying to get rid of terrorism in Afghanistan. They were real patriots in that they knew the reality of life. They were pragmatists. They could not fight terrorism on their own.

So I moved out of his house, came to another village and began to speak with more people. Before I went into Afghanistan I did not know that there was something called Al Qaeda. We knew about Osama, we knew there were terrorists, but not the name Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and the Taliban were immensely powerful, immensely strong, in terms of resources and equipment.

The Taliban had heard of my presence in that area and that the Arabs and some Pakistanis with them and the Taliban had gotten together 1500 people to attack us. The villagers came to me and said, "What do you want? Do you want to fact them here or do you want to do something else? I said, "What will happen if we face them here?" He drew a dramatic picture that shook me to my bowels. He said, "Hamid, if you face them here, they will come with their rocket launchers, with their RP-7s --" RP-7 is a kind of rocket thing -- "And they will blow up our women and children and their flesh would be hanging on trees." When I heard this, I was shaken, terrified. The imagination that the children would be blown up and there would be these trees with -- their flesh would be spread on trees! I said, "No, no, no, of course I don't want to face them here. Then what should I do?" He said, "Go to the mountains." I said, "All right, let's go to the mountains." I asked people, "Who is willing to go with me?" Fifty people said, "We'll go with you." And we began the journey. We went to the mountains.

It took us 13 hours to arrive at a place where there was one man, with two of his children and his wife, all alone in a little hut in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of mountains. This one man with his wife and two children fed, for the first day that we arrived, 50 people. For the second day we were 90 people, for the third day, we were 120 people and he fed us all in that village. Not a village, in that home, in that area. There I saw the next most remarkable thing. People said, "Can you have weapons?" I said, "No. "Do you have weapons?" "No." "Do you have money "No." "What do you have?" I said, "I have you 50 people or 100 people that you are here." They said, "Well, this man is probably crazy." They got together somewhere, away from me. They began to consult each other, the elders and the young men. Then they came back to me. Then they said, "Can you call the U.S. and ask them for weapons?" I said, "Yes. Maybe I can call, yes. This is a proposition that I can accept. Maybe I can do that." They said, "All right. Call the U.S. and see if you can be given some weapons."

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This page last revised on Sep 23, 2010 15:14 EDT
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