Afghanistan's Karzai defends choice of vice-president
President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday defended his pick of vice-president for his bid for re-election, saying Mohammed Qasim Fahim was a choice for unity and an Afghan government not influenced from "outside".world Updated: Jun 17, 2009 23:53 IST
President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday defended his pick of vice-president for his bid for re-election, saying Mohammed Qasim Fahim was a choice for unity and an Afghan government not influenced from "outside".
A former anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban military commander, Fahim has been accused by Human Rights Watch as well as Afghan and other international critics of abuses including murder during Afghanistan's nearly three decades of war.
Western officials, some close to the United Nations, have alleged that he is also linked to gangs that are today involved in crimes such as kidnapping and drugs smuggling.
There were "too many allegations in Afghanistan against our personalities, against our people," Karzai said.
"Look, in America during their war of liberation and during the civil war and afterwards, a lot of people were celebrated as heroes. Afghanistan has heroes of its own, and so has Europe heroes of its own," he said.
Karzai dropped Fahim from his ticket in the first-ever presidential election in 2004 reportedly under pressure from Western allies.
But since the ouster of the extremist Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan has become home for people from former communists to mujahedeen and villagers.
"That is the Afghanistan I want to continue to preserve and take us to a next stage of stability," Karzai said.
"So the choosing of Fahim as my vice-president was a decision that I made for the good of the country, for the unity of the country, for the strength of Afghanistan, in which it has a government that is Afghan and not influenced from outside," he said.
The president also reflected allegations of rights abuses by figures in his government back onto the thousands of Western troops here to fight insurgents.
The troops have killed hundreds of civilians in error in their operations against insurgents, but the militants kill more ordinary Afghans in their attacks.
Human rights groups must "also begin to pay attention to the plight of the common people in Afghanistan who are suffering every day at violence perpetrated against them by various military forces, by various accidents," Karzai said.
Karzai has been the de facto leader of Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban in a US-led invasion. He is among 41 candidates for the August 20 presidential elections, the second in Afghanistan's turbulent history.
The signs are that he has a good chance of success despite his failure to rein in a Taliban-led insurgency and rampant corruption.