Thursday, 19 October 2017

US forces aiding Islamic State in Afghanistan, alleges Karzai

Hamid Karzai

KABUL: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that the ISIS was a ‘US construct’ whose forces have been helping the militant group in Afghanistan.

“Absolutely,” he told Russia Today in an exclusive interview in London when asked whether he agrees that the ISIS was a US construct.

Asked if the US bases in Afghanistan were being used to aid Daesh, the other name of ISIS, he said, “I have more than suspicions.” “Afghan people have told me how they (ISIS) are supplied with helicopters how unmarked non-military colour helicopters supply these people, not only in one part of the country but in many parts … and this is a daily occurrence,” he added.

The former president also claimed that the terror group had been able to spread its tentacles in the country just under the nose of the US forces and the powerful CIA. He questioned why extremism and violence had increased in Afghanistan when the US had come to the country to bring peace and stability. “The US came to Afghanistan to bring peace and stability and defeat extremism — [yet] we have more of it today. Why? That is what we should be discussing,” Karzai said. “Clearly bombings, killings, prisons and the harassment of people [in Afghanistan] have not worked.”

Noting that IS emerged in Afghanistan over the past few years, Karzai asked, “Who did this under the watch of US intelligence and military in Afghanistan and how come?” “We have the right to ask these questions and the US government must answer.”

The interviewer, pointing out that Britain had been supporting de facto IS and Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria, asked the president about the contrasting role Britain played in Afghanistan by liberating Helmand province. “At that time, they did help. We are grateful for what Britain has done in Afghanistan; it was a much, much softer version of what the US did,” Karzai said, admitting, however, that Helmand is no longer in control of the Afghan government today; rather, it is under the Taliban.

“How come there is more extremism in spite of millions of dollars and loss of lives?” Karzai asked. When the interviewer followed up with a question about “proof,” Karzai added, “The proof is what is happening in Afghanistan.”

He said that the questions that are being raised are founded on ‘fundamental evidence of wrongdoing’. He opined that bombs and military action will not bring peace to Afghanistan. Instead, he said, Afghans must develop a “mechanism of [their] own to reach to everyone, including the Taliban ? the sons of our soil ? to seek a settlement.”

He said that this process should be supported by everyone, adding that the US must act as a cooperative partner in the region with ‘big countries, such as China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and India to bring peace’.

When asked about a recent Taliban attack at an airport in Kabul that took place on the same day that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in the Afghan capital for talks, Karzai said that the attack was an ‘indication of how things are going wrong’. “17 years on, the Americans can’t even keep the airports safe on the day the defence secretary and the NATO chief are visiting Kabul,” he said.

The Afghan president said that there are two sides to Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan. “On one hand, when we became refugees of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, Pakistan welcomed us tremendously, like brothers and sisters, and we lived like [we would] in our own homes.” “But then, as backers of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union, Pakistan and the Americans did the most horrible activity of trying to weaken the traditional Afghan system […] weaken our moderation, our tolerant society and turn our religion into an extreme tool,” Karzai said, adding that this involvement led to all other things, including 9/11 and subsequent bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Karzai hoped that Pakistan would ‘recognise that it was used by the US against a neighbour for a purpose that was not human’ at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

He added that now the US, under President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy, is doing the same to Pakistan to ‘prevent integration and economic development in this region’.

Karzai added that the common point between Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding Trump’s policy was that both countries recognise it will not help matters in Afghanistan. “We don’t want to be tools in big games where we get stepped on for the objectives of others,” Karzai said. “Pakistan did the same to us, but we do not want to do this to Pakistan.” He said that Afghanistan wants to “extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan and join hands with the region to salvage ourselves from this conspiracy.”

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