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  President Hamid Karzai
By Afghanland.com: Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan’s interim government wasn’t even in Bonn when he was selected to head the post-Taliban administration. He was in southern Afghanistan, preparing for the final push on the city of Kandahar.

Karzai comes from the dominant Pashtun tribe, and from the same clan of the former Afghan king Zahir Shah. For a brief time in the early 1990s he supported the Taliban, which had taken over when the holy warriors of the mujahedeen ended the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. That was when he regarded the Taliban as Pashtun, like himself.

He quickly became suspicious of the Taliban, not pleased with how it had been infiltrated by foreign elements such as Pakistani, Arab, and Chechen extremists. Seven years later, in 1999, the Taliban assassinated Karzai’s father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, once a parliamentary deputy in the Afghan government. The young Karzai and his father had campaigned against the Taliban, operating from a base in Quetta, just across the border in Pakistan.

Karzai then devoted himself to the campaign against the Taliban, determined to follow his father’s wishes that a multi-ethnic, broad-based government rule Afghanistan, starting with the convening of a grand tribal assembly known as a loya jirga.

He is tall, bald, with a carefully trimmed beard and moustache. He comfortably wears well-tailored suits and ties and often displays a quick and clever sense of humor.  

Karzai is good at keeping a cool head in extreme circumstances. He describes himself as "a politician, not a fighter." Educated partly in India, he speaks English fluently, as well as six other languages. Over his Afghan tunic he often wears a double-breasted blazer. After two sessions with the Taliban commanders, he secured the surrender of Kandahar, a city Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar once promised his fighters would defend to the death.

According to Afghanland.com sources, Karzai has six brothers and one sister have built successful careers in business or academia in the U.S. Two Maryland-based brothers own Afghan restaurants in Boston, San Francisco and Baltimore Maryland owned by Pat and Qayum Karzai. All three restaurants are named Helmand, after the province just west of Kandahar. Though he has visited the U.S. several times, on occasion meeting with high-ranking cia, State Department and other government officials, Karzai has remained mostly in Afghanistan or in exile in Pakistan, embroiled in the tortured politics of his homeland.

Unlike most Afghan men, who marry in their early 20s, Karzai remained a bachelor 1999. Having a wife was not a priority to him, He was only dedicated to Afghanistan.Family members say it was the final illness of his mother, who had expressed the wish to see him settled before she died, that led Karzai to marry at last, in January 1999. His wife Zinat is an obstetrician-gynecologist active in assisting refugees in Pakistan.

After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Karzai fled to Pakistan, where he built supply lines between anti-Soviet Afghan guerrillas and American backers. When the mujahedin took power in 1992, he returned to serve for two years as Deputy Foreign Minister in the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Disillusionment with the infighting of that regime led him to switch over, briefly, to the Taliban, which once tried to make him its U.N. ambassador, a post he declined. But Karzai, an Islamic moderate, soon turned against the Taliban's stringencies, especially its brutal restrictions on women, and returned to Pakistan. Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth, a friend of Karzai's, says that after the murder of his father, Karzai approached Washington with plans for leading resistance to the Taliban. "It did seem like a mission impossible," says Inderfurth, "because he'd be putting himself at great risk."

Karzai has never shied from risks. On Oct. 7 he slipped inside southern Afghanistan, heading first to his ancestral village of Karz, near Kandahar. From there he set off to the mountains of Oruzgan province, recruiting tribal elders to join an anti-Taliban coalition. It was not long before the Taliban got on his trail. He escaped ambush and certain death by calling in U.S. forces to rescue him by helicopter. The U.S. says it whisked him out of the country; he insists he never left--perhaps concerned about being seen as too close to the U.S. Since then, Karzai has been back in the mountains, while his Pashtun recruitment drive has picked up speed as one Taliban city after another has fallen to the Northern Alliance.

Having secured the peaceful fall of Kandahar, Karzai is headed up to the capital, Kabul. When he formally took charge on Dec. 22 2001 he will find his 30-member Cabinet assailed by regional warlords who were elbowed out in Bonn.

One notable element of Karzai's Cabinet is that it will include two women. Suhaila Seddiqi, a doctor in Kabul, will be the Minister of Public Health. Sima Samar, who works with a nongovernmental organization in Quetta, will be Minister of Women's Affairs, as well as one of Karzai's five deputies.

He is considered a moderate Muslim. In the campaign against the Taliban, he commanded 4,000 Northern Alliance fighters, mostly in southern Afghanistan, in the push on Kandahar.  

Tom Ford designer of famed GUCCI line named Karzai ``The chicest man on the planet today (1/16/2002) is the new president of Afghanistan, whose look is very elegant and very proud,'' Ford said after showing his fall-winter 2002-03 collection for Gucci during Milan's men swear shows. 

By the time a United Nations-sponsored conference met to set up an interim government for Afghanistan, he had strong American backing and was clearly being groomed for leadership.

At the end of that conference in December, he was elected leader of Afghanistan's six-month interim government.

Well educated, Westernized and stylish, Mr. Karzai has been feted by foreign governments on his frequent trips abroad and has proved a shrewd and charismatic statesman.

He has also managed to build up considerable support at home, partly a tribute to his diplomatic skills, but also because many ordinary Afghans are disillusioned with existing leaders and warlords.

As far as they are concerned, one of the major points in his favor is that he was not involved in the bloodletting in Afghanistan during the early 1990s. However, that also means he has no armed forces of his own in a country famous for fractious warlords.

But the political horse-trading ahead of the loya jirga may have tarnished his image with some Afghans. There is a perception that he has entered into political deals with Afghanistan's warlords. Thus far he is the best candidate to steer Afghanistan towards a better future and he means well and it truly a good man.

Mr Hamid Karzai, President of Transitional Islamic state of Afghanistan, revived the memories of the days he spent in the Queen of Hills as a student where he recieved the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Dr Suraj Bhan, the Chancellor of the Himachal Pradesh University.

“I know Shimla more than anyone of you. I am familiar with every street every building and had explored its every nook and corner”, he said. “It was drizzling when I landed at the local railway station alongwith my cousin we walked through the road passing through a thick forest. The landscape fascinated me so much that I decided to join the local S.D.B. degree college to pursue his gradation.”

He said it was in Shimla that he got into habit of walking. His long walks, initially from the guest house to the college, continued even after he shifted the YMCA in the heart of the city.

According to a PTI report Karzai arrived here by an IAF helicopter and was received at the Annandale Helipad by the Governor, Dr Suraj Bhan, the Chief Minister, V.B. Singh, Cabinet Ministers Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh and Kuldeep Kumar and Chief Secretary Rajinder Bhattacharya.

In 2004 Elections Karzai was elected the first President of Afghanistan by a nation wide poll. He defeated his closest rival Yunos Qanooni by over 40%.

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