Karzai blasts US, NATO for 'using' Afghanistan, announces Taliban talks
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s tendency to oscillate between support for NATO and harsh criticism of it has confounded and irked friend and foe alike.
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This strategy, however, encounters serious problems when politicians make remarks intended to appeal to a specific audience in the presence of media who broadcast the remarks countrywide and sometimes internationally. Additionally, as the media has grown substantially since the fall of the Taliban, Afghans have become more savvy about leaking select information to journalists.Skip to next paragraph
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In this climate, Karzai’s remarks about NATO are likely intended to win support among Afghans, but when disseminated to an international audience they create major problems.
'People are confused'
Still, many Afghans say this is no excuse for Karzai’s seemingly erratic remarks.
“Media should be considered a given in today’s world and today’s society," says Daoud Sultanzoy, a former member of parliament from the eastern province of Ghazni. "Leaders have to adjust to that, to the freedom of the media, to the freedom of expression.”
Even among Afghans familiar with leaders who flip flop as political tides turn, Karzai’s behavior is seen as confusing and difficult to read. In a nation where 72 percent of the population is illiterate, many Afghans still follow radio and television news closely and hear the president’s contradictory remarks.
“People are confused," says Izzatullah Wasifi, Afghanistan’s former anti-corruption chief. "They can’t understand what are his motivations, what are his motives, what is his strategy, and where does he want to take this nation?”
“When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost — in terms of life and treasure — hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people," said Mr. Eikenberry, without mentioning Karzai by name, "they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here.”