Hamid Karzai
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Below is a biography of Hamid Karzai distributed by the Afghan Government in early 2005

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 Interim Government.

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.

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