President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that any kind of election is better than an illegal government, confirming that the 2014 presidential election will go ahead as scheduled regardless of the country’s situation.
Speaking in a press conference in Kabul, Karzai emphasised that his government will not be legal after his term is over and said that none of the threats, including insecurity and “foreign propaganda”, will prevent the election from being held on time.
“Any election, even if it’s incomplete, is better than an illegal government, because in 2014 when my term expires, I will not be a legal president of Afghanistan for even a day,” he said.
He slammed the role of foreign figures in the 2009 presidential election saying that they will not be permitted to interfere in the next one.
“As I told the foreign officials very clearly, they should not interfere in our upcoming election as in the previous presidential or parliamentarian elections. It has been proven that they cannot impose their aims on the Afghan people. So, we want a free election without the intervention of both foreigners and the Afghan government,” he said.
On the signing of an Afghanistan-Pakistan strategic pact which has raised the ire of Afghan senators and lawmakers, Karzai said it will only happen when Pakistan accepts all Afghanistan’s conditions including the end of the cross-border shelling in eastern Afghan provinces.
“If these conditions are met – terrorism is stopped, extremism is dismantled, anti-Afghan activities are stopped, the destruction of Afghanistan is stopped – then a friendship will start between the two countries which hasn’t happened so far. Then the strategic pact will be signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
He also urged the US and Nato to combat terrorism in the region, saying the focus should be to eliminate it at its roots – which are not in Afghanistan.
“The US and Nato should go to the places where the roots of the terrorism exist. They are saying one thing but acting contrary to that,” he said.
Karzai noted that the Afghanistan-US security pact will allow for some presence of US troops in Afghanistan which should help peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, he made it clear he was not solely depending on the US, using the Afghan Air Force as an example.
“I asked the US government to equip our air force with weapons, intelligence and transport planes – we still haven’t received a response from them. Our discussions will continue next week as well and if they show no interest in this, we will decide to whether purchase from Russia, China, India or any other country,” he added.
Karzai laid some blame on the US for the ongoing shelling of Afghanistan’s eastern provinces from Pakistan, saying that the Afghan forces were not sufficiently equipped to respond so the US should have stepped in.
“The Afghan government does not have required artillery to target those areas where they are firing from. According to Afghan-US strategic pact, US is committed to defend Afghanistan against any such foreign threats until the Afghan forces find the ability. We asked them several times but they never accepted that these attacks were occurring,” he said.
Karzai stressed that Afghanistan will not retaliate in like manner to the shelling because the tribes on the other side of the Durand line were the tribes, the brothers, of the Afghan people.
Referring to the media, Karzai reiterated his past condemnation of Western media for propagating an “ideological war” against Afghanistan with the suggestions that it will face economic failure and the return of the Taliban when the Nato forces withdraw in 2014.
“The western media has launched an ideological war against Afghanistan saying that Afghanistan will face serious economic problems after the withdrawal of foreign troops or that the Taliban will come back to power after 2014,” he said, adding that some Afghan media outlets and experts were following in the footsteps of the foreign media.
“Criticising the government should not harm the national interests of Afghanistan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan media watchdog Nai chief Sediqullah Tawhidi responded to Karzai’s comments which follows the Council of Minister’s call this week for an investigation into those media which go against the “national interests”.
Tawhidi said the government should work on improving security and providing good governance instead of focusing on the media’s performance.
“Instead of threatening the media, the government should show its commitment towards ensuring the security of people, and launch a transparent election which would stop the rising concerns of the Afghan people,” he said.