Western forces to blame for rising violence in Afghanistan: Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai puts the blame for rising violence in his country on international forces, saying they have mismanaged the fight against the resurging Taliban.
Karzai said in an interview on Indian television that the West risks losing peoples' goodwill and that its forces should have done more to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaeda bases outside the country.
In the interview with CNBC TV 18 aired Monday, he didn't directly mention bases in Pakistan, but his government has singled out that country in the past.
Karzai's criticism — including his insistence that civilian casualties must stop — is important in light of his stated plan to stand for re-election next year. The president is often criticized in Afghanistan for being too close to the United States and Britain.
The president said Western forces did not focus on "sanctuaries of terrorists" despite his government's warnings over the past five years.
"It was a serious neglect of that, in spite of our warning," he said, adding that other former members of the Taliban who had given up arms were unfairly hunted down within Afghan borders.
"Some of the Taliban who have laid down their arms, who are living in the Afghan villages peacefully, who have accepted Afghanistan's new order, they were chased, they were hunted for no reason, and they were forced to flee the country," he said, according to Reuters.
An American-led coalition drove out the ultra-conservative Islamic Taliban government in late 2001. The United States accused the Taliban government of harbouring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which Washington blamed for a number of deadly attacks.
The Taliban is now fighting to bring down the Afghan government and drive out the foreign troops who back it.