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Freedom of Speech must be protected: Karzai

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: Former President Hamid Karzai expressed serious anxieties over continuing deterioration of situation in Afghanistan, asking President Ashraf Ghani to review and rethink his policies as the country was heading for a new wave of crisis.

In a press conference on Monday, Karzai also talked about freedom of speech, that he describes as foundation of the new Afghanistan, and one of great achievements of the last 18 years that unfortunately, it has been eroded and is under threat.

“Today, we are gathering here to defend the freedom, freedom of speech and ‘Republic System’ which was ensured several years ago by Afghan Constitution under the new democratic system,” Karzai told reporters.

However, he said that since past four years these achievements are “being threatened and violated” as those inhabitants who are advocating for peace “are being threatened and conspiracies are being hatched against them”.

Afghanistan’s freedom of speech cannot be snatched as there are movements and persons, who will not let anyone to violate freedom of speech, former president said, calling on the EU and US to raise their voices and defend this right of the Afghan people.

“We want the “Islamic Republic” which ensure and guarantee the basic and fundamental rights of the people under a democratic system, Mr. Karzai said. “Afghans should not be forced to flee their country.”

Furthermore, Mr. Karzai welcomed and expressed his support for the expected intra–Afghan conference to be held in Beijing, the capital city of China.

“President Ghani asked me not to attend the Beijing conference, and I did not want to attend if it worries President Ghani.”

Mr. Karzai said that more political persons were also asked not to attend Beijing conference. But said he is not supporting this idea.

“We want our National Security Forces not to be misused for personal or political purposes” apparently former president has referred to the use of the security forces to remove protestors from the doors of the provincial electoral offices, who have blocked the votes recounting process for past several days.

The former president also talked about controversial presidential election, where he said the Afghans prefer peace over the election.

“Low turnout in 28th September presidential elections proven that “peace is the top priority” of the Afghan people and he is strongly support the peace efforts of the United States in Afghanistan,” he added.

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