Former president Hamid Karzai has dismissed U.S Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements on the legal tenure of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG), calling the assertions a contradiction to Afghanistan’s national sovereignty.
He warned Washington against the move – what he believes is playing with Afghanistan’s national sovereignty.
“The remarks of John Kerry and setting up a period for NUG agreement is a major violation of Afghanistan’s national sovereignty, no foreigner can represent our national determination,” Karzai said.
Kerry said during his Kabul trip early this week that the political agreement was for a five-year period and that the agreement does not end after two years.
“The agreement itself has no particular termination. The constitution has elected the president, the president has agreed to a unity government and the political agreement was made between Dr. Abdullah [Abdullah] and President [Ashraf] Ghani for how they will go forward in a unity government. But as our understanding is as a mandate for five years,” Kerry said on Saturday during a joint press conference with Ghani. He was referring to the political agreement he brokered after the 2014 presidential elections hit a crisis amid large scale fraud and electoral rigging accusations.
Amid speculations over Kerry’s remarks on the NUG’s tenure, Karzai said that the Afghan people never endorsed a government which is forced on them by foreigners, calling for a constitutional Loya Jirga to be convened in line with the political agreement signed between Ghani and Abdullah.
“As I have read and seen the agreement, there is a need for a Jirga to be convened in the agreement which is signed between our two brothers President Ghani and CEO Abdullah. The people of Afghanistan hope that the Jirga is convened so that it can issue its provisions on the constitution of Afghanistan, amendments on the constitution of Afghanistan. And this is the right of the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
When asked about ways on how to bring an end to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the former president lashed out at the U.S saying that peace cannot be restored in the country unless the U.S is willing to help. He said Washington retains enough influence over Islamabad to convince Pakistani officials to stop meddling in Afghan affairs.
“The war in Afghanistan is in the hands of the U.S and Pakistan, if the U.S decides, Pakistan will not be able to fight here,” he said.
He said that no Afghan wants the government to collapse, however the people have the right to a legal government.
“Every Afghan wants to have a legal government, a government which is in line with the constitution of Afghanistan, but not under foreign pressure and that the foreigners do not determine the tenure of our government,” Karzai said.
“If the U.S talks to us like a friend and deals with us like a player on the ground, we will run alongside the U.S according to our potential. But for that the U.S must be an honest partner and shouldn’t exploit these things. We are prepared to make partnerships with the U.S,” Karzai said.
“The question on whether the president came to power on the basis of elections or not, there is no doubt. The elections were conducted in the country, but the elections were announced as fraud, like our 2009 elections. We conducted the oath taking ceremony and transferred the power, then how can we announce a president illegal whom we conducted an oath taking ceremony with?” he said.
He implied foreigners were trying to create situations in Afghanistan which are according to the desires and objectives of the U.S.
When asked about Kerry’s remarks on the political agreement of NUG, Karzai said: “I should avoid commenting on this, this is not my job, because my comments would have repercussions ahead. This is the job of our law experts and the constitution. However, I wish both officials success.”
“We talked more about John Kerry and what he did during 2014 elections. I was not supposed to be involved in the second round of elections, this time, the things were to be dealt with by the two candidates (Ghani and Abdullah). If I had tried to meddle, they would have said that Karzai is doing all this to extend his own tenure on power. The important thing for me was to conclude the process and conduct the oath taking ceremony as soon as possible,” Karzai said.
Meanwhile, a number of legal experts have also challenged the legitimacy and credibility of the National Unity Government.
“There is a government which does not have the legitimacy and today it is facing deadlocks; they (NUG leaders) make decisions and then are endorsed by the U.S secretary of state. But they do not have another option except doing this,” law expert Tahir Hashemi said.
But, Karzai says that the key for peace and war in Afghanistan lies in the hands of U.S and Pakistan.
In a question regarding his relations with Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Karzia said that he is in close contact with both leaders even during the elections, but he never tried to meddle in the process.
“I have friendly relations with both president Ghani and CEO Abdullah, whenever they ask for advise, I reach them,” he said.
Touching on the issue of 2014 presidential elections, Karzai once again accused certain foreign countries of trying to sabotage the Afghan presidential elections.
“Foreigners had been plotting two dangerous games to sabotage our elections and defame me so that they could move forward with their plans. But I managed to save myself through taking the necessary measures,” he said.
In addition, Karzai announced his full support to the recent efforts made by NUG leaders to accelerate the much-awaited peace negotiation talks.
He also called on Afghans to stay and not to leave their country.