KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, on Thursday accused the United States of playing a “double game” by fighting a war against Afghan insurgents rather than their backers in Pakistan, and by refusing to supply his country with the weapons it needs to fight enemies across the border. He threatened to turn to China, India and Russia for those arms.
He also accused the Western news media of trying to undermine the confidence of the Afghan people by publishing articles suggesting that a civil war and economic collapse might follow the departure of NATO troops at the end of 2014. However, he also promised, using his strongest words to date, that he would step down from the presidency and that there would be an election.
“No circumstance, no foreign propaganda or intervention and no insecurity can prevent the election from happening,” Karzai said at a news conference. It was the second time in recent days that Karzai had sounded angry and resentful over the policies of his U.S. partners, and his comments Thursday were among his most pointedly critical in recent years, Afghan analysts said, suggesting that the always rocky relationship between the two countries is hitting a new low. Karzai touched on a number of similar points in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
“NATO and Afghanistan should fight this war where terrorism stems from,” Karzai said Thursday, alluding to the safe havens in Pakistan where the Taliban take refuge. “But the United States is not ready to go and fight the terrorists there. This shows a double game. They say one thing and do something else.
“If this war is against insurgency, then it is an Afghan and internal issue, then why are you here? Let us take care of it.
“But if you are here to fight terrorism, then you should go to where their safe havens are and where terrorism is financed and manufactured,” he said.
He also expressed frustration about the lack of sophisticated weapons from NATO countries, saying, “Are we going to wait and do nothing, or should we buy them from Russia, China, India or other countries?”
The relationship between Afghanistan and the U.S. has been on a downward slide since midsummer, shortly after a conference in Tokyo at which Western countries pledged $16 billion to support Afghanistan through 2015.
In August, a tense and unpleasant row began between the two countries over the terms for handing over Afghan prisoners at the U.S.-run detention facility in Parwan. With most prisoners handed over, the U.S. halted the remaining transfers in September after indications that the Afghans might release some of the most dangerous ones. The Afghans were furious and charged the U.S. with breaking the terms of a memorandum of understanding on the hand-over. It took a lengthy phone call by President Barack Obama to Karzai to get discussions back on track.