Karzai to Step Down In 2014
In a recent meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly announced his decision to step down as President in 2014. The two head-of-states met at the White House to discuss the 2014 U.S withdrawal strategy. While issues of long-term stability and security were discussed, speculations were rife over President Karzai’s ambitions to run for a third term in office thus blatantly challenging the country’s constitution. Karzai has led the U.S.-backed Afghan government for over a decade and has served as a top U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism. There is no doubt that the U.S. considers President Karzai a key player and strong supporter in the South Asian region.
President Karzai’s pledge to bow out comes at a time when US-Afghan relations are facing turbulence. Moreover, President Karzai is aware of the serious internal threats facing an already fragile Afghanistan. His departure will undoubtedly be a setback for the U.S. and is bound to create a power vacuum in Afghanistan.
While the war torn country has witnessed stability under President Karzai’s leadership, it still remains crippled by corruption. Apart from discussing internal threats, military strategies and larger security frameworks, the two leaders also discussed U.S priorities and public opinion. President Obama unveiled the U.S ‘zero option’ strategy that requires leaving no more troops behind, after the drawdown date. This marks a clear shift from previous American guarantees of leaving U.S troops in a non-combatant role to monitor and facilitate a transition of power and usher in democracy. The news has only led to further discontent and mistrust not only at the official level but also amongst the people of Afghanistan.