By Saket Suman and Vikas Datta,
Jaipur : Terming the Western media propagandist, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Friday that India, for whom he had a special message on its 69th Republic Day, should develop its own sources in his country, even as he termed US President Donald Trump’s aid cut to Pakistan “a bit too late but welcome”.
“You see the western media, from the very beginning, was all about bringing out the negatives of Afghanistan. It’s a country with a great civilization and a lot there is positive and good. We are a nation, we are people with history and a way of life, with deep cultural associations and all things that we should cherish,” Karzai told IANS in a freewheeling interview on the sidelines of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, depreciating the Western media’s penchant for ignoring his country’s positive aspects.
“The conflict (with the Taliban) is of course there and we have seen the result of the conflict but the stories of disunity and divide are largely made up and kind of promoted for all reasons. One of the reasons is the impact (negative reporting) can have on India and therefore it is very very important that India should develop its own sources of information in Afghanistan. It should focus on indigenous reporting from Afghanistan rather than carrying news from AP, The New York Times and other Western sources,” Karzai maintained.
He further asserted that the majority of misreporting from Afghanistan was done to spread propaganda and referred in this context to the narcotics trade that is constantly being reported on.
“We are not to blame (for narcotics). We suffered its consequences. I will give you an example. They say the Afghan narcotic trade producess anywhere between 60 to 150 billion dollars. Now if this is the Afghan trade how come we are so poor? Imagine a hundred and fifty billion dollars in Afghanistan, it would be a hell of a rich country like the US. So where is the money going? The UN says that out of the 150 billion dollar narcotic trade, only four billion dollars goes to Afghanistan. So where is the rest? Where has the (remaining) 146 billion dollars gone? Where? Of course, to the international market and western banks” Karzai contended.
There have also been allegations against some of Karzai’s close associates, including his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, for allegedly making profits from the narcotics trade and promoting it in the country.
Responding to a question on such allegations, he said: “It was a tool to pressurise me by the American government. To silence me against civilian casualties and when they were trying to force to stop and end the use of private security firms that they had deployed in Afghanistan. Then they began to tackle me and this seemed the best tool for them.”
His message for India?
“India is a great country, India is known around the world as a place where even the biggest of cultures and ways of life come and assimilate over centuries. This is then seen in the world as an Indian commodity. This should be kept in mind and India as a rising power must be a beacon of hope and peace to the world and away from conflict or policies that create conflicts.”
Karzai used a Farsi phrase, “Der aayen, durust aayen” to describe Trump’s recent announcement of cutting down aid to Pakistan, saying: “It’s a bit too late but welcome.” He also maintained that “if the action is taken correctly, they (the Pakistan government) will have to pay heed”.
He also maintained that the United Nations and other international agencies can play a major role in Afghanistan but they must not undermine Afghan enterprise itself.
“The United Nations can play a great role in Afghanistan. We welcome the presence of international organisations but the international organisations and their role in Afghanistan must not undermine Afghan enterprise itself. It should not undermine our own initiation on vitalities and our own seeking of things. It must not work to promote dependence on the West among people in Afghanistan. The NGOs right now, by the way, are doing just that — creating dependence. These are the things that will enable us to further our own abilities and aspirations,” Karzai said.
The former Afghan President, who earlier addressed a packed house at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, further contended that the past 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan (that began with the Soviet invasion in 1979) has, no doubt, pushed the country down but even so, “we are still a very thriving and hardworking society for literature and poetry and productions of books and translations”.
(Saket Suman and Vikas Datta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively.)