Hamid Karzai

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Hamid Karzai
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Hamid Karzai

Became President:December 7, 2004
Date of Birth:December 24, 1957
Place of Birth:Karz village, Qandahar

Hamid Karzai, (Pushtu: حامد کرزي Dari: حامد کرزی) (born December 24, 1957) is the current and first democratically elected President of Afghanistan (since December 7, 2004). Since December 2001, Hamid Karzai had been Chairman of the Transitional Administration and been Interim President from 2002.


Early and Personal life

Karzai was born in Kandahar. As an ethnic Pashtun and member of the powerful Populzai clan (from which many Afghan Kings have come), he came from a family that were among the strongest supporters of King Zahir Shah. Thus, he was involved in politics in Afghanistan early on.

He took a postgraduate course in political science at Himachal University in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India from 1979 to 1983, then returned to work as a fund-raiser supporting anti-Soviet uprisings in Afghanistan during the rest of the 1980s. After the expulsion of Soviet forces, he served as a minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani.

He is married to Zinat Karzai, a doctor by profession. They were married in 1998 and have no children.

Taliban association

When the Taliban emerged onto the political scene in the 1990s, Karzai was initially among their supporters. However, he later broke with the Taliban, citing distrust of their links to Pakistan. After the Taliban overthrew Rabbani in 1996, Karzai refused to serve as their U.N. ambassador. In 1997, Karzai joined many of his family members in Quetta, from where he worked to reinstate Zahir Shah. His father was assassinated, presumably by Taliban agents, July 14, 1999, and Karzai swore revenge against the Taliban by working to help overthrow it.

President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.
President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.

Afghan Leader

In 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attack, Karzai worked with the United States to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan and muster support for a new government. In December, 2001 exiled Afghan political leaders--many with no followers inside Afghanistan--gathered in Bonn, Germany to agree new leadership structures. Under the December 5th Bonn Agreement they formed an interim Transitional Administration and named Karzai Chairman of a 29-member governing committee. He was sworn-in as leader on December 22.

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US President Bush and Karzai in the Oval Office, January 28, 2002.

The Loya Jirga of June 19, 2002 appointed Karzai Interim holder of the new position as President of the Afghan Transitional Administration and he was appointed shortly afterwards.

Karzai's actual authority and popular support outside the capital city of Kabul was said to be so limited that he was often derided as the "Mayor of Kabul."

Presidential Elections, 2004

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Hamid Karzai is congratulated by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Faisal Ahmad Shinwari after he was administered the oath of office on December 7, 2004, becoming Afghanistan's first directly elected president. Members of the Afghan Supreme Court and former King Zahir Shah look on.

Karzai was a candiate in the October 9, 2004 Presidential Elections. Despite a perceived lack of national support he won 21 of the 34 provinces, defeating his 22 opponents and became the first democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.

As incumbent president Karzai held high name recognition among voters, and was admired by his supporters for his steady leadership during an uncertain post-war period. Other contributing factors to his win may have included his endorsement by US President George W. Bush's administration, the brief one month campaign season, and the paucity of news coverage in the country about his opponents. Although his campaigning was limited due to fears of violence, elections passed without significant incident.

Controversy erupted due to the failure of indelible ink to prevent voter fraud. Following investigation by the UN, the national election commission on November 3rd declared Karzai winner, without runoff, with 55.4% of the vote. This represented 4.3 million of the total 8.1 million votes cast.

Karzai was officially sworn in as President of Afghanistan on December 7, 2004 at a formal ceremony in Kabul. Many interepreted the ceremony as a symbolically important "new start" for the war torn nation. Notable guests at the inauguration included the country's former King, Zahir Shah, Afghanistan's three living former presidents, and American Vice President Dick Cheney.

Other information

On September 5, 2002, an assassination attempt was made on Hamid Karzai in Kandahar. A gunman wearing the uniform of the new Afghan National Army opened fire, wounding the Governor of Kandahar and an American Special Operations officer. The gunman, one of the President's bodyguards, and a bystander who knocked down the gunman were killed when Karzai's bodyguards returned fire. A second attempt on Karzai's life took place on September 16, 2004 when a rocket missed the helicopter he was riding to Gardez, where Karzai planned to open a school.

Karzai speaks six languages; Pushtu, Dari, Urdu, English, French and Hindi.

Karzai was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal for 2004 and made an Honorary British Knight in 2003. He received an honorary doctorate in literature from Himachal University, his alma mater, on March 7, 2003. On a lighter note, he has been lauded for his excellent personal dressing style, particularly his capes and fezzes. Gucci's Tom Ford called him "the chicest man on the planet", and Silvia Fendi, of Fendi, has extolled his "great nonchalance and elegance".

Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali Karzai helps coordinate humanitarian assistance in the southern province of Kandahar. Several of Karzai's brothers and sisters are restauranteurs in the United States. They own restaurants in San Francisco, Baltimore, and Cambridge, MA, all called Helmand.

Several sources, most notably the film Fahrenheit 9/11, have reported that Karzai once worked as a consultant for the oil company Unocal. Spokesmen for both Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although they could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium. [1] (http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/lane.htm) [2] ( The claim appears to have originated in the December 9, 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde. It was also stated by the Christian Science Monitor [3] (http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0610/p01s03e-wosc.html). Some have suggested that Karzai was confused with U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.

In 2004, he rejected a US proposal to end the poppy production in Afghanistan through aerial spraying of chemical herbicides, possibly fearing that he may alienate some warlords who are hostile to his administration or support him conditionally.

On May 21, 2005, he was denied permission to throw a ceremonial first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park, due to security and logistical concerns.

On May 25, 2005 Hamid Karzai visited a West Point, Nebraska cattle feeder, and received an honorary degree from the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska - Omaha.

See also

External links

da:Hamid Karzai de:Hamid Karzai et:Hamid Karzai es:Hamid Karzai eo:Hamid KARZAI fr:Hamid Karza gl:Hamid Karzai hi:हामिद करजई id:Hamid Karzai nl:Hamid Karzai ja:ハーミド・カルザイ pl:Hamid Karzai pt:Hamid Karzai ps:حامدکرزى ru:Карзай, Хамид fi:Hamid Karzai vi:Hamid Karzai


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