Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Friday said al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence and subsequent recovery from Pakistan proved the war on terror was waged against “the wrong country”.
Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in India, Karzai said the death of al Qaeda founder in Pakistan shows that NATO and allied forces were wrong in entering Afghan soil.
According to an NDTV report, the former president – in an apparent dig that the war should have been waged in Pakistan instead – said US should have gone to the sanctuaries of terrorism, not Afghanistan. Karzai has been unrelenting in his criticism of Pakistan during his long rule and has continued to do so even after stepping down.
“My stance against certain elements of US and NATO presence was principled,” Karzai, who has often said the war on terror should not be against Afghanistan, clarified.
“I stood up against the US because I wanted them to correct their behaviour with Afghanistan.”
Rejecting warnings by his one-time counterpart General (r) Pervez Musharraf, Karzai reiterated Afghanistan would not allow itself to become the battleground in a proxy war between India and Pakistan after the imminent departure of US-led troops.
“Afghanistan will not allow proxy war between India and Pakistan on its soil – and I’m sure India won’t do that,” Karzai said firmly, adding, “India will be there to educate our children, build dams, not to wage a proxy war against Pakistan – so I’ll give a reassurance to Musharraf that he did not worry.”
In an interview earlier this week, Musharraf warned that Pakistan would look to use ethnic Pashtuns to counter if India tries to achieve its goal of creating an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan”. India and Pakistan have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan but the former president rejected a possibility of this.
Thanking India for participating in ‘every step’ of rebuilding Afghanistan as it suffered from invasions, foreign interferences and extremism, Karzai said, “a generation of forward-looking young Afghans have emerged and thanks a great deal to India having helped us in this regard.”
Further, commenting on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, Karzai said, “We will engage with Pakistan as a sovereign, independent state conducting our own foreign policy and that will not be compromised.”
Karzai’s statement comes at a crucial time after the newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan and as NATO’s combat mission ends in December.