An assassination in Kandahar

Ahmad Wali Karzai's personal and tribal connections made him an invaluable asset to the occupying forces.

Editorial July 12, 2011

Ambivalence is the best posture to adopt regarding the assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai. He was the undoubted Achilles heel of his half-brother, Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Ahmad Karzai, with credible allegations that he was intimately involved in Afghanistan’s criminal drug trade while bring on the CIA payroll, symbolised all that was wrong with the Afghan government. Despite all the controversy surrounding him, Hamid Karzai put his brother in charge of the all-important Kandahar area where he was of immense help to Nato forces in confronting the Taliban. This, then, was the central dilemma surrounding Ahmed Karzai. His personal and tribal connections made him an invaluable asset to the occupying forces seeking allies in a country where they had none, but his personal dealings gave lie to the notion that Nato was seeking to win hearts and minds.

Although we know that Karzai was shot dead by his bodyguard, we do not yet know what the motive was. The Taliban have rushed to claim credit but the Taliban are known to boast about actions they never carried out and there are plenty of people who would have lots of reasons to want Karzai dead. If, indeed, he was assassinated at the instigation of the Taiban, that is yet one more reason to forcefully denounce the killing. We in Pakistan are familiar with politicians being assassinated for ideological reasons and we can empathise — former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, too, was killed by his own bodyguard.

The assassination shows the folly of Nato’s Afghanistan policy and hints at the turmoil that will follow as the US gradually withdraws its troops. Nato has relied far too heavily on individuals rather than building institutions. It has compounded that mistake by having a preference for individuals who were unencumbered by the rule of law. In an ideal world, Ahmed Karzai’s assassination would cause the US and its allies to rethink this obviously failed policy. But after a decade in Afghanistan, the US seems ready to call it a day. Ultimately, Karzai most likely died in vain.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2011.


Rabia | 10 years ago | Reply

Strange piece. How is ambivalence the best posture to adopt regarding the assassination of anyone? Whatever his moral character, surely the assassination of the most powerful figure in the south of the country is a cause for dismay or at least alarm.

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