KABUL: Afghanistan was a peaceful and tolerant Muslim country with a fast-improving economy before the Soviet invasion, the former president claims.
While the Soviet Union tried to impose its own ideology of communism on a deeply Muslim nation, the West and its allies did the same mistake by fostering extremism, Hamid Karzai alleged.
Addressing a UAE-based think tank, the ex-president claimed foreign supporters of Afghanistan’s jihad encouraged the influx of foreign rebels from all corners of the Muslim world to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
“After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, various regional and international extremist movements were further harnessed by intelligence agencies in our region,” he told the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.
Militarisation in the name of religion was actively promoted as an instrument of foreign policy, damaging the Afghan state, he continued. The vacuum created by the collapse of the state was quickly filled by extremist forces.
“The emergence of the Taliban, which initially heralded the end of anarchy in Afghanistan, was used by external forces to promote an agenda that stood in sharp contrast to state-building and the return of peace and progress,” he remarked.
As a result, millions of Afghans were terrorised, maimed and killed by the extremists, who torched schools, deprived children of education and dynamited the Bamyan Buddhas, as the country regressed considerably, he lamented.
Years before the 9/11 attacks in the US, he recalled, they had warned the West of the impending menace. “Regrettably, while the Afghan people continued to suffer unthinkable atrocities at the hands of terrorists, much of the world watched with indifference.”
He characterised the ongoing violence perpetrated in Libya, Syria, Iraq and other Muslim countries as vicious, brutal and inhumane. Societal fabric in some of the countries is being torn apart and their development gains are being undone.
Karzai insisted new radical elements such as Daesh were the product of recent internal upheavals and interventions that gave rise to the breakdown of societies and weakening of state institutions.
Regime change by military intervention has led to new forms of oppression, according to the ex-president, who deplored terrorists and non-state actors fuelled violence and destruction in the Muslim world.
“For me, terrorism continues to be the product of policies rooted in reckless pursuit of short-term and narrow national interests at the expense of others. The terrorism we know today is state-sponsored and the outcome of bad politics devoid of ethics.
“The terrorism we know today has nothing to do with religion, or with the idea of a greater cause. It is not a state of mind, nor is it a societal reaction to the so-called clash of civilisations,” he reiterated.
Instead the scourge was more political than social or ideological in nature, he explained, saying the recent history of Afghanistan and the region was a testimony to his observations.
He stressed: “We must work diligently to advance better education and to achieve higher and more equitable living standards. We also need to keep pace with the trend of advancements in the world and live in greater harmony with other religions and cultures.”
In order to rectify past failings and reverse the threat from terrorism, he urged world powers to come together and build a new international security and economic order based on multilateralism, mutual respect, equity, dialogue and cooperation.
Karzai went on to underline the need for rising above narrow national interests and realising that global security and prosperity were increasingly interdependent. No country should seek only its own well-being at the expense of others, he concluded. (PAN)