In his book ‘Every day is extra’, John Kerry narrates an exhilarating account of his encounter with the erstwhile President Hamid Karzai and calls him ‘a charming and emotional patriot who wanted a united Afghanistan.
In his memoir, Kerry enthuses that Karzai was an outgoing president. He writes, “I plunged into the work on Afghanistan right away. One of my first calls was to President Karzai in February 2013. My experience with Karzai taught me that it was important to call and listen even when you didn’t have something specific to ask of him.”
Kerry said that Karzai had always been convinced – not without some justification – that whatever trouble he faced was the work of Pakistan and its intelligence services.He called Karzai charming, volatile and emotional ‘who had purposely made the point that too many Americans simply dictate terms and lecture’.
Kerry remembers Karzai to be sometimes difficult person to deal with, but says “he was a patriot first and foremost and wanted his country to remain together as a country – something seared into him by his father’s assassination and his own exile and journey home from Pakistan, as well as his work with the Afghan Northern Alliance.”
More important,Kerry writes, “I knew that even as Karzai accepted that Afghanistan’s 2014 elections would mark his exit as president, he was still going to be a player in the country with influence both behind the scenes and publicly.
He says that Karzai had known that 2013 wasn’t going to be an easy year – a year when negotiations over a joint status of forces agreement were gridlocked, having become particularly volatile after some incidents where civilians have been killed.
He continues, “We started talking right away about the hardwork it would require to see another successful democratic transition in Afghanistan. I found that if I stayed in close touch with him that helpedmodulate the public comments he’d make, which were sometimes quite unhelpful.”