Hamid Karzai is an Afghan statesman who served as the fourth president of Afghanistan from July 2002 to September 2014, including as the first elected president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from December 2004 to September 2014.
99 Facts About Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai previously served as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Administration from December 2001 to July 2002.
Hamid Karzai is the chief of the Popalzai Durrani tribe of Pashtuns in Kandahar Province.
Hamid Karzai briefly served as Deputy Foreign Minister in the Islamic State of Afghanistan government.
In July 1999, Hamid Karzai's father was assassinated and Hamid Karzai succeeded him as head of the Popalzai tribe.
In October 2001 the United States invasion of Afghanistan began and Hamid Karzai led the Pashtun tribes in and around Kandahar in an uprising against the Taliban; he became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001.
Hamid Karzai was then chosen for a two-year term as interim president during the 2002 loya jirga that was held in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai won a second five-year term in the 2009 presidential election; this term ended in September 2014, and he was succeeded by Ashraf Ghani.
Hamid Karzai called the Taliban his brothers and warned that the heavy-handed counterinsurgency in Afghanistan would only revive the Taliban insurgency against the former Afghan government, urging the US to instead focus on bringing Pakistan's support for the Taliban leadership to heel, but the US largely ignored his requests.
Hamid Karzai said that in order to gain international recognition, the new Taliban government needed internal legitimacy, which could be achieved through a general election or loya jirga.
Hamid Karzai was born on 24 December 1957 in the Karz area of Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai is an ethnic Pashtun descended from the khans, or traditional chiefs, of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe.
The Hamid Karzai family were monarchists and remained strong supporters of Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai attended Mahmood Hotaki Primary School in Kandahar and Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School in Kabul.
Hamid Karzai graduated from Habibia High School in Kabul in 1976.
Hamid Karzai then moved to Pakistan and worked as a fundraiser for the anti-communist Afghan rebels during their 1980s uprising against the rule of Soviet-backed Afghan Mohammad Najibullah.
Hamid Karzai returned to Afghanistan in early October 1988, late in the war, to assist in the rebel victory in Tarinkot.
Hamid Karzai assisted in mobilizing the Popalzai and the other Durrani tribes and helped to drive Najibullah's regime from the city.
Hamid Karzai helped negotiate the defection of five hundred of Najibullah's soldiers.
Hamid Karzai accompanied the first mujahideen leaders into Kabul after President Najibullah stepped down in 1992.
Hamid Karzai served as Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Hamid Karzai was arrested by Mohammad Fahim on charges of spying for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in what Hamid Karzai claimed was an effort to negotiate between Hekmatyar's forces and Rabbani's government.
Hamid Karzai fled from Kabul in a vehicle provided by Hekmatyar and driven by Gul Rahman.
Hamid Karzai was requested by the Taliban to serve as their ambassador, but refused, telling friends that he felt Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence was wrongly using them.
Hamid Karzai then wanted to represent the Taliban government for the UN, but the Taliban leader did not trust Hamid Karzai due to him having many links with westerners.
Hamid Karzai lived in the Pakistani city of Quetta among many other Afghan refugees, where he worked to reinstate former Afghan king Zahir Shah, meeting the king in Italy several times.
Hamid Karzai visited the western embassies including the US embassy in Islamabad several times, talking with UN diplomat Norbert Holl, and attempted to gain American support for "modern, educated Afghans" to weaken the Taliban's views.
Hamid Karzai's father was reportedly annoyed with him for not making clear-cut choices and wanting to be friends with everyone.
Hamid Karzai had been a US CIA contact, and was well regarded by the CIA.
Later, many would claim that at this moment the US decided that Hamid Karzai should be the next leader of Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai gathered several hundred fighters from his tribe, but were attacked by the Taliban.
Hamid Karzai barely survived, and used his contacts with the CIA to call for an airlift.
The group suffered injuries and was treated in the United States; Hamid Karzai received injuries to his facial nerves, as can sometimes be noticed during his speeches.
Hamid Karzai re-enacted the original coronation of Ahmad Shah Durrani at the shrine of Sher-i-Surkh outside Kandahar, where he had leaders of various Afghan tribes, including a descendant of the religious leader who originally selected Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747, as key players in this event.
Hamid Karzai has been, to varying degrees of success, attempting to negotiate and form amicable alliances with them for the benefit of Afghanistan as a whole, instead of aggressively fighting them and risking an uprising.
When Hamid Karzai was a candidate in the October 2004 presidential election, he won 21 of the 34 provinces, defeating his 22 opponents and becoming the first democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai was sworn in as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on 7 December 2004, at a formal ceremony in Kabul.
However, Hamid Karzai has proved to be more cautious than was expected.
In May 2006, an anti-American and anti-Hamid Karzai riot took place in Kabul which left at least seven people dead and 40 injured.
In May 2007, after as many as 51 Afghan civilians were killed in a bombing, Hamid Karzai asserted that his government "can no longer accept" casualties caused by US and NATO operations.
In September 2006, Hamid Karzai told the United Nations General Assembly that Afghanistan has become the "worst victim" of terrorism.
Hamid Karzai said terrorism is rebounding in his country, with militants infiltrating the borders to wage attacks on civilians.
Hamid Karzai has repeatedly demanded that NATO forces take more care to avoid civilian casualties when conducting military operations in residential areas.
Hamid Karzai was blamed by many for the failures that plagued the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the toppling of the Taliban government in 2001, from the widespread corruption and the resurgence of the Taliban to the explosion of the poppy trade.
Two months later Hamid Karzai accepted calls for a second round run-off vote, which was scheduled for 7 November 2009.
Hamid Karzai presented his first list of 24 cabinet nominees to the Afghan parliament on 19 December 2009; however, on 2 January 2010, the parliament rejected 17 of these.
Since late 2001 Hamid Karzai has been trying for peace in his country, going as far as pardoning militants that lay down weapons and join the rebuilding process.
Hamid Karzai noted that the Afghan militants are always welcome in the country, although foreign insurgents are not.
In September 2007, Hamid Karzai again offered talks with militant fighters after a security scare forced him to end a commemoration speech.
Hamid Karzai left the event and was taken back to his palace, where he was due to meet visiting Latvian President Valdis Zatlers.
In December 2009 Hamid Karzai announced to move ahead with a Loya Jirga to discuss the Taliban insurgency in which the Taliban representatives would be invited to take part in this Jirga.
In January 2010, Hamid Karzai set the framework for dialogue with Taliban leaders when he called on the group's leadership to take part in the jirga to initiate peace talks.
In July 2010, Hamid Karzai approved a plan intended to win over Taliban foot soldiers and low-level commanders.
Hamid Karzai enjoyed a very friendly and strong strategic partnership with the United States, despite various disagreements.
Hamid Karzai has made many important diplomatic trips to the United States and other NATO countries.
Hamid Karzai's task is to serve as a mediator and solve issues between the three nations.
However, in later years the relations between US and Hamid Karzai had become strained, particularly Hamid Karzai had been very critical of US military because of their high-level of civilian casualties.
In 2019 he described a "major fight" he had with American military officials back in 2007, when Hamid Karzai repeatedly told them: "If you want to fight terrorism and bad people, I won't stop you, but please leave the Afghan people alone".
Hamid Karzai often describes his nation and Pakistan as "inseparable twin brothers", a reference to the disputed Durand Line border between the two states, despite the many border skirmishes that occurred during his presidency.
In September 2008, Hamid Karzai was invited on a special visit to witness the swearing-in ceremony of Asif Ali Zardari, who became the President of Pakistan.
Hamid Karzai acknowledges Pakistan's meddling in Afghanistan's wars, but said in a 2015 interview that Afghanistan wants a "friendly relationship but not to be under Pakistan's thumb".
Hamid Karzai believed that Iran is a friend although the US often claims that neighboring Iran is meddling in Afghanistan's affairs.
In 2007, Hamid Karzai said that Iran, so far, had been a helper in the reconstruction process.
Hamid Karzai acknowledged in 2010 that the Government of Iran had been providing millions of dollars directly to his office.
Hamid Karzai staunchly defended the election balloting, stating that some statements criticizing the balloting and vote count were "totally fabricated".
In June 2010, Hamid Karzai travelled to Japan for a five-day visit where the two nations discussed a new aid provided by the hosting nation and the untapped mineral resources recently announced.
Hamid Karzai invited Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi and others to invest in Afghan mining projects.
Hamid Karzai told Japanese officials that Japan would be given priority in the bid to explore its resources.
On 16 July 2014, President Hamid Karzai held a special cabinet meeting where he condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza and the killings of civilians while pledging $500,000 USD in aid to Gaza.
In October 2011, Hamid Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Hamid Karzai claimed that the Afghan government and Afghan people did not want to eliminate the Taliban, but rather reintegrate the Taliban into society.
Daud Ahmadi claimed that Hamid Karzai had stopped an attack on a Taliban training camp in Logar province of Afghanistan.
In February 2022, Hamid Karzai condemned the Biden administration's decision to unfreeze $7 billion of Da Afghanistan Bank's assets and to divide the money between humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and the victims of the September 11,2001 attacks.
Hamid Karzai has been critical of the Taliban government's failure to fulfill promises regarding women's rights, and has asked the Taliban to reopen schools for girls.
In 1999, Hamid Karzai married Zeenat Quraishi, a gynaecologist by profession who was working as a doctor with Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
Hamid Karzai became a father at the age of 58 when another daughter was born in September 2016 in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
Hamid Karzai is believed to be from the Shamizai subtribe of the Popalzais.
Hamid Karzai's grandfather, Khair Muhammad Karzai, was a head of the Popalzai tribe from Kandahar who relocated to Kabul and ran the business of a guest house.
Hamid Karzai is often seen wearing a Karakul hat, something that has been worn by many Afghan kings in the past.
Hamid Karzai has received a number of awards and honorary degrees from famous government and educational institutions around the world.
Hamid Karzai has been accused of nepotism, corruption, electoral fraud, and being involved with his late half brother Ahmed Wali Hamid Karzai in the drug trade.
Hamid Karzai admitted that his office received millions of dollars in cash from the Iranian government.
Hamid Karzai stated that the money was given as gifts and intended for renovating his Presidential Palace in Kabul.
Mahmud Hamid Karzai bought one such villa from Farnood for 7 million dirhams using money borrowed from Kabul Bank and in a matter of months sold it for 10.4 million dirhams.
Hamid Karzai has admitted that there is widespread corruption in Afghanistan, but has blamed the problem largely on the way contracts are awarded by the international community, and said that the "perception of corruption" is a deliberate attempt to weaken the Afghan government.
In 2002, when Hamid Karzai became the subject of heavy media coverage as one of the front runners to lead Afghanistan, it was reported that he was a former consultant for them.
Spokesmen for both Unocal and Hamid Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium.
Hamid Karzai himself was in London at the time of the discovery, to participate in talks with Pakistan and the US on the possible location of Taliban leader Mullah Baradar.
At the time, it was unknown if Hamid Karzai was directly involved or even knew of such communications.
In May 2021, Hamid Karzai spoke with German newspaper Der Spiegel, where he expressed his sympathy with the Taliban, criticized the role of the United States in Afghanistan and praised the role of the European Union, at the same time, saying that the future of Afghanistan relies heavily on neighbor Pakistan.
Hamid Karzai considered the Taliban "victims of foreign forces" and said that Afghans were being used to be "each against the other".
Hamid Karzai, during an interview with Voice of America, claimed that ISIS in Afghanistan is a tool for the United States.
Hamid Karzai further claimed that he does not differentiate at all between ISIS and the United States.
Hamid Karzai claimed that he routinely received reports regarding unmarked helicopters dropping supplies to support the terror faction.
Hamid Karzai asked for an explanation from the United States regarding the unmarked helicopter flights.
Hamid Karzai claimed that the United States had made Afghanistan a testing ground for its weapons.
Later on during an interview with Al Jazeera, Hamid Karzai again criticized the United States.
Hamid Karzai accused the United States of working with ISIS in Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai accused Pakistan of supporting ISIS during an interview with ANI.