Accessibility links

Taleban Insurgency Likely to Continue for 'Many Years', Afghan President says - 2004-07-23


Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the violent insurgency in his country will likely continue for years to come. But in an interview with VOA's Michael Kitchen, the Afghan leader says the attacks are not a significant problem. The greater threat, he says, comes from the presence of regional militias, who fight among themselves and threaten the people they are meant to protect.

President Hamid Karzai says Afghans should brace themselves for continued terror attacks by anti-government insurgents for years to come.

"This fight against terrorism, against those who are trying to cause instability in Afghanistan will go on for a long time," the Afghan leader said.

But, he told VOA, despite the mounting death toll, the insurgency problem is a manageable one, and will not stop Afghanistan's recovery from two decades of war.

"It has not, and it will not stop Afghanistan from achieving what it wants to achieve. That has been shown," Mr. Karzai said.

A U.S.-Afghan coalition toppled the country's conservative Taleban regime in 2001. But since then, its loyalists and their allies from the al-Qaida terror network have mounted deadly attacks on government and military targets, as well as aid workers and civilians.

Mr. Karzai spoke with VOA the same day as a bomb attack on a U.S. military patrol in the southern city of Kandahar.

The Afghan leader says that, as the new national army and police grow, and government control of the country becomes stronger, the terror threat will ease.

But as Mr. Karzai downplays the threat posed by insurgents, he expresses deeper concern over a different security issue, that of local militias.

The Afghan government and its international partners are trying to disarm hundreds of local militias, and replace them with the new national army and police.

A number of militia leaders, though nominally under the command of the central government, have been dubbed "warlords," ruling independent mini-states in the territory they control.

Some of these militias have engaged in factional fighting over the past two years, and several are accused of criminal activity, such as extortion and drug trafficking.

Mr. Karzai says procrastination by many of the militia leaders has caused the disarmament program to fall behind schedule.

Some provincial government officials also hold control over sizeable local militias.

Many Afghan citizens and international observers have criticized Mr. Karzai for keeping such people in his government. The president says, however, he cannot exclude leaders, who, in many cases, have a long history of service to Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is the home of all Afghans, and we have to have everybody in this government, who has given a contribution to Afghanistan's jihad, to Afghanistan's fight against terrorism," Mr. Karzai said.

He admits, however, this policy of inclusion is part of the reason that the disarmament program is behind schedule, and thus part of the reason the militias continue to plague the country.

Politically, the militias could try to influence voting in Afghanistan's presidential election in October, and legislative and provincial elections next year. Mr. Karzai will be running for president, as will at least one militia leader, General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

And despite Mr. Karzai's confidence, security officials in Afghanistan also are worried about the Taleban threat before the election. The insurgents have pledged to disrupt the election, and over the past few months, have killed several election workers to intimidate both the government and would-be voters.

President Karzai, however, says the insurgents will not stop the election.

XS
SM
MD
LG