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Is former Afghan Prez Hamid Karzai angling for a top job?

Is former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai angling for a top job even as the current President, Ashraf Ghani’s political equity is fast eroding? In New Delhi on Saturday Karzai gave a talk on “Regional Power Play and the Rise of Radicalism in Afghanistan” under the aegis of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS).

He seemed to be on a ‘please all’ mood excepting the USA. But considering that South Block is currently perceived, is slightly at least, leaning towards Washington in these ‘times unknown’ that was “de rigeur.”

Unbelievably a man who spent of the time of the Soviet occupation of Afganistan in exile, the Pushtun leader even talked about how the “Soviet Union was a genuine friend of Afghanistan” but “Communism was alien to the people of Afghanistan.” He also said, in the same breath that the ‘brothers’ in Pakistan needed to be congratulated for “their hospitality towards Afghan refugees.”

In a telling moment he revealed a conversation with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser (NSA) of Jimmy Carter, about the strategic intention of the Americans with Afghanistan.  He said that he had heard about a Brzezinski having a plan to create a ‘Green Belt’ around the USSR. He had asked Carter’s NSA this, and the answer he got was that he had plans of creating ‘arc of instability.’

With that grand strategy in mind, the US administrations need to “rethink, replan and reimplement,” an Afghan strategy, which would not have any “heavy handedness.” While if that is taken as a job application, one can be rest assured that his brief but pithy talk at the IPCS event is designed to arouse the interest of the Western powers. He has otherwise described South Asia, or the Indian sub-continent a ‘melting pot’ of cultures. But he has made sure that if the USA does not bite the bait, a Russia, China and Iran – an old alignment of sorts will be willing to do the heavy-lifting. 

By playing all sides, Karzai has not only put India on notice to choose sides carefully, but also kept all options open. A smart politician that he is he knows a weak hand also can turn a joker into an ace.

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