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Biography of Hamid Karzai
by Abdullah Qazi on May 3, 2009
last updated by S. Ghilzai and Abdullah Qazi on January 13, 2016
Hamid Karzai was the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014.
Hamid Karzai was born in 1957, and comes from the well-known Popalzai tribe. His family is a wealthy Pashtun family originally from Kandahar. He spent his early years in Kandahar, attending primary school, and then completed his high school degree at Habibia high school in Kabul. He went on to do his higher education in India.
During the Soviet war, Karzai worked as a contractor for the CIA, as well as helped the mujahideen. Karzai helped transfer arms and money to the mujaheddin. Later he served as Deputy Foreign Minister under President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Ironically, during this time, Karzai was arrested by Mohammad Fahim (who would later serve as his Vice President) because it was thought he was potentially spying for Gulbuddin Hekamatyar.
When the Taliban emerged on the scene, Karzai supported them, and even worked as a consultant to help a major US oil company, Unocal sign a deal with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. The deal was never put to fruition, after women rights organizations in the United States put pressure on Unocal to not do business with the Taliban due to their extremely oppressive treatment of women in the country. Eventually, Karzai grew tired of the Taliban and later in 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, began to secretly work with the United States to find an alternative to Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Once the Americans led an invasion of Afghanistan, Karzai was implanted as the interim President of the country, chosen by a Loya Jirga in June 2002. This would forever garner him the title of being American’s puppet.
Hamid Karzai was not widely known until he was chosen to lead a provisional administration which was set up in Bonn, Germany in December 2001. Karzai was actually a compromise that was reached between the former king’s (Mohammad Zahir) supporters and the United Front (UNIFSA), whose ground troops, with help from the United States, defeated the Taliban and drove them out of Kabul.
Afghanistan’s presidential elections were held on October 9, 2004, where Karzai ran. On November 3, 2004, the Joint Electoral Management Body of Afghanistan finally certified the elections and declared Hamid Karzai the winner with 55.4% of the votes. He took the presidential oath of allegiance at Salam Khana Palace on December 7, 2004 in the presence of dignitaries and officials from around the world.
Karzai then ran again for President in the 2009 elections, which were widely criticized for fraud. Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s biggest opponent, even dropped out of the race because of this, making Karzai the winner.
Prior to his final term coming to an end, Karzai refused to sign a security deal with the United States, even when a Loya Jirga was held (per his request) and they voted in favor of the security deal with the United States. The deal was finally signed once Ashraf Ghani replaced him as President of Afghanistan when Karzai’s term ended on September 29, 2014. Afghanistan’s constitution only allows 2 terms for a president.
From 2002 until his last days as president in 2014, Karzai was criticized for corruption, nepotism, putting his friends in high places, and spending more time caring for the feasts at the Palace as opposed to the people of his country. His family also does not have a great reputation as wealthy landowners, corrupt politicians (as they received their jobs from their brother), and heading the drug trade.
August: Karzai pardons child would-be suicide bombers. About 6 months later, some of these kids are re-arrested for attempting to commit suicide attacks.
Daughter Malalai is born.
Nippon Sports Science University gives him honorary Doctorate.
Ends security talks with the Americans after learning of American plans to hold peace talks with the Taliban – Karzai insists his goverment should lead peace talks with the Taliban instead. Refuses to sign security agreement with the United States.
New reports surface that Karzai’s presidential office had been receiving millions of dollars from the CIA and Iran since late 2002.
May 20th: Lovely Professional University gives him honorary Doctorate
March: Daughter Howsi is born
September 29: Last day as President of Afghanistan.
June: Goes to Moscow and meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin
November 7th: Opens Karzai Foundation with the aim of helping young Afghans with higher education opportunities.