Hamid Karzai was born on December 24th, 1957, (Quas 9th, 1336) in the village
of Karz, near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, had served during Afghanistan’s war of
independence and as the Deputy Speaker of the Senate. His father, Abdul Ahad
Karzai, was a tribal (Popalzai) elder and a significant national political
figure, who served as the Deputy of the Parliament during the 1960’s. Abdul
Karzai moved, along with his family, to Kabul when he entered the Parliament.
Hamid Karzai studied at Mahmood Hotaki Elementary School, Sayed Jamaluddin
Afghani School, and Habibia High School. After graduating from high school, he
traveled to India as an exchange student in 1976, and was accepted to study for
his Masters degree in International Relations and Political Science from Simla
University. He obtained his Master’s Degree in 1983 (1362), shortly after the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which began in 1979).
Hamid Karzai then traveled to Pakistan, to join with the Mujahideen fighters
resisting the Soviet occupation of his homeland. In 1985, he traveled to Lille,
France, to attend a three-month journalism course. When he returned to Peshawar,
Pakistan, he served as the Director of Information and later as the Deputy
Director of the Political Office of the National Rescue Front led by
Professor Sebghatullah Mujadidi. After the
formation of the Mujahideen transitional government in 1989, he was appointed
Director of the Foreign Relations Unit in the Office of the President of the
When the Mujahideen Government was established in Kabul in 1992, Hamid Karzai
was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister. Two years later, when the civil war
between the various Mujahideen groups began, he resigned his public position,
and began to work actively for the organization of a national Loya Jirga (Grand
Council). A deeply religious man, he believed that only through a Loya Jirga
could Afghanistan’s difficulties be overcome, and the differences between the
competing parties resolved peacefully. This belief was borne out by the
Emergency Loya Jirga of 2002 and the Constitutional Loya Jirga in 2003 / 2004.
In August, 2000, Abdul Karzai, who had taken up residence in Quetta,
Pakistan, while he continued to encourage his countrymen to resist to the
Taliban, was assassinated by the Taliban and their foreign supporters. The
commitment of the Karzai family, and of Hamid in particular, to ridding
Afghanistan of this foreign menace was not shaken by this tragedy, and he
continued to agitate passionately against the Taliban.
Hamid Karzai returned to Uruzgan Province in October, 2001, with three
friends, and together they worked to coordinate local efforts to rid Afghanistan
of the Taliban and their supporters. On December 5 th, 2001, while he was still
in Afghanistan leading these efforts, he was elected Chairman of the Interim
Administration of Afghanistan, by participants at the UN-sponsored Bonn
Conference. He, along with the appointed Cabinet, took his oath of office on
December 22 nd of that year.
His role as leader of the country was confirmed by members of the Emergency
Loya Jirga, when he was elected as the President of the Transitional Government
on June 13th, 2002. During Afghanistan’s first Presidential Election, on October
9th, 2004, Hamid Karzai won 55.4% of the votes, defeating his nearest competitor
by more than 3 million votes, and was elected to a 5-year term as President of
the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He took his oath of allegiance at Salam
Khana Palace on December 7 th, 2004, in the presence of dignitaries and
officials from around the world.
Hamid Karzai has been awarded many honours, among them a Knighthood from Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth (2003), the Philadelphia Liberty Medal (2004), and the
Die Quadriga Award (2004).
In 1999, he married Dr. Zeenat Quraishi, a gynecologist. He has six brothers
and one sister. He speaks Pashtu, Dari, Urdu and English fluently, and enjoys
riding horses and studying philosophy.