NEW DELHI (Reuters) - International forces in Afghanistan have mismanaged the fight against the Taliban, leading to a rise in violence, and now risk losing people’s goodwill, President Hamid Karzai told an Indian news channel.
Karzai has often criticised the Western conduct of the war in Afghanistan, saying civilian casualties must stop.
In turn, the president, who wants to stand for re-election next year, is often criticised at home for being overly influenced by the United States and Britain.
In an interview to be aired on Indian television on Monday, he said foreign troops had failed to go after “the sanctuaries of the terrorists” which Afghan officials say exist over the border in Pakistan.
Karzai did not directly mention Pakistan but the Afghan government has said that the West should have done more to crack down on Taliban and al Qaeda bases in Pakistan.
“It was a serious neglect of that, in spite of our warning,” he told CNBC TV 18, adding that other former members of the Taliban who had given up arms were unfairly hunted down within Afghan territory.
“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.”
Ousted from power in 2001 by U.S.-led and Afghan forces, the Taliban has vowed to topple the Afghan government and drive out the foreign troops who back it.
Some 13,000 people, including more than 380 foreign troops, have been killed in violence since 2006.
“The international community came to Afghanistan in the name of fighting terrorism and that fight has to be real and effective,” Karzai said.
“There is no way we can win this war against terrorism unless and until Afghanistan is ... detached from the other interests or views that some of our partners have in this region.”
On the one hand the Taliban have shown a desire for political dialogue but on the other stepped up attacks, including a high-profile strike at a state parade attended by Karzai and Western diplomats in April.
Karzai also said violence had risen because not enough attention was paid in time to the training of a new Afghan army and police force.
The Afghan president said he did not accept charges in the Western media of corruption, ineptitude and paranoia in his government.
“I don’t even recognise it,” he said.