Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian during his recent visit to Delhi. Excerpts:
Q. You had come here as President and even after. You came with a wishlist and your successors are doing the same. Is it time that India becomes bolder and decides to provide military hardware and copters as has been an Afghan demand for long?
A. India approached the issue with caution and we understood it. There were considerations of Pakistani sensitivity which we of course disagree with as Afghanistan is a sovereign country and it has the right to seek help from wherever it can. Also, India had a consideration of the US view on that. But India did help Afghanistan some months ago with military helicopters and I hope India will do more.
Q. Should India start looking at engaging Afghanistan on fronts that are bigger concern for Afghanistan such as security?
A. Yes. Afghanistan’s security, stability and strength as a nation, as a state is a guarantee to a less threatened, more stable, more secure India.
Q. The former Intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil who worked under you has come out with documents revealing ISI involvement in funding and carrying out attacks such as in Kabul airport and killing of Afghan leaders.
A. It’s all from across the border in our neighbourhood and everybody knows that and so do our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, the common people who also suffer unfortunately just like we do in Afghanistan, just like some do in India. We need to be clear and blunt about this and seek solutions.
Q. Mr Nabil has evidence and those must have been provided to you when you were in office. Did you take it up with the Americans, your partners in the region?
A. In fact, this was one of the issues we had with the US. We kept producing for the Americans evidence coming from across our border. It became a serious issue of misunderstanding, rather dispute, between us and the US. They overlooked it.
Q. How does one stop Pakistan and terrorism that emanates from Pakistan?
A. The Pakistani people suffer as much as the Afghans suffer. Just recently, we saw the attack in Quetta where lawyers were killed, where journalists were killed and I personally knew some of them. We call upon the government of Pakistan, the establishment of Pakistan to seek a different path to relations with Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh.
Q. Can that really happen if the ISI is not onboard with the others in the region?
A. So, to what effect and to what consequence do they want a stable and good Pakistan. Do they want peace and stability for the people of Pakistan or do they want, by their actions, more suffering for the people of Pakistan because it’s not only Afghanistan and India that are suffering, it’s also the people of Pakistan. We want to have the best of relations with them, but that will only come when they reciprocate.
Q. What do you make of PM Modi’s speech from the ramparts of Red Fort where for the first time an Indian PM mentioned Balochistan?
A. We know what’s going on in Balochistan and we suffer as well. The Baloch people have suffered at the hands of extremism and terrorism and their rights are violated. We wish the Baloch to have all that a human being deserves. A right to live, right to live in dignity, and have their human rights respected.
Q. Is the fact that India has now mentioned Balochistan and Pakistan crossing a “red line”?
A. Afghanistan and India have been reserved in their comments on Pakistan for a very long time. It was the Pakistani speakers who kept talking about Afghanistan and also on India. I hope they would understand that we live in the same region, that eventually we need to talk about these issues.
Q. Is it time the international community came together about human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or for that matter Balochistan?
A. Absolutely. Terrorism should not be dealt with politically, but from a human rights perspective.