BBC On The Record - Broadcast: 25.11.01

Interview: HAMID KARZAI, A Pashtun tribal leader and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

What are the prospects for the talks on the future government of Afghanistan and would it help if there were more British and American troops on the ground?

JOHN HUMPHRYS: Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun and he was the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan before the Taliban took over. Washington has been pinning many of it hopes on him to rally opposition to the Taliban around Kandahar. He won't be at the conference in Germany because he has got too much to do at home . I spoke to him on a satellite phone a few minutes ago and asked him how much of a fight the Taliban will put up for Kandahar. HAMID KARZAI: In truth in the provinces surrounding Kandahar, the provincial administration centre, the provincial capitals have fallen to popular revolt where the Taliban governors and the other administrators have run away without putting up a fight or any resistance and those provinces are peaceful and they are in the hands of people. I hope the Taliban in Kandahar will do the same, I hope they will run away and let these people take over. HUMPHRYS: If they don't, if they put up a real fight, do you want British and American forces to help. KARZAI: If they continue to cause bloodshed for our people, if they continue to shelter these terrorists in Afghanistan and continue to give them an opportunity to fight the Afghans and cause suffering to the Afghan people, we Afghans will be capable on our own when we decide to challenge them and to neutralise them. HUMPHRYS: But American bombing - you'd want that? KARZAI: I hope the bombing will stop as soon as possible and we have peace returned to Afghanistan and I hope that Mullah Omar would not cause any more trouble to the Afghan people. The bombing has been there because he has been protecting the terrorists and I hope he would not cause any more bombing of Afghanistan. HUMPHRYS: Moving to the talks in Germany, do you believe that the Northern Alliance is truly prepared to accept a broad based government that might even include some members, former members of the Taliban? KARZAI: The United Front is an Afghan organisation, it's an Afghan group, they are as much a part of Afghanistan as the other people of Afghanistan are. I hope they would recognise and I hope they will see the need that Afghanistan needs to take a new look that the people of Afghanistan are to determine their future. I don't think it's up to groups in Afghanistan, whether the United Front or this or that or any other front to take power without the will of the Afghan people. I would recommend very much to all our Afghan friends and brothers that they allow a Loya Jirga, a representative process of the Afghan people to determine the future of the country. HUMPHRYS: And if that Loya Jirga as you describe it, the representatives meeting, if it says we would like to see some of the Taliban in the future government, would you accept that yourself? KARZAI: I don't think the Loya Jirga would say that, I'm sure about that but if the Loya Jirga makes a decision one way or the other it's a decision of the people that has to be respected but I very much doubt that the Loya Jirga would even consider a thing like that. HUMPHRYS: And just a final thought, do you think that in the future Afghanistan it would be helpful to have a British and American and perhaps other forces acting as a sort of stabilising force to help control some of the key towns and cities in Afghanistan? KARZAI: Yes the Afghans would very much need the presence of a stabilising forces in Afghanistan, the help of the international community, especially the United States and Europe is extremely critical, I hope they would also be talking to our neighbours to see that Afghanistan returns to stability. The Afghan people very much want stability, they are people just like any other country, just like any other people. They want life, they want to earn a decent living and if that is helped by outside, by the international community it should be a tremendously good thing for us. HUMPHRYS: Mr Karazi, many thanks for talking to us this morning. KARZAI: Thank you.
NB. This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.