H.E. Hamed Karzai is the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He was sworn into office on December 7, 2004. In an unprecedented chapter in Afghan history, the President was elected by the people on October 9, 2004.
H.E. President Karzai previously served as the Chairman of the Afghan Interim Adminstration. Initially, he was sworn into the Interim Administration during a ceremony on December 22, 2001 in Kabul. He had been chosen by the successful assembly of various Afghan groups in Bonn as the undisputed figure to lead Afghanistan during its precarious transition. Per the Bonn Agreement, the power of the Interim Authority was transferred over to the Transitional Government on 19 June 2002 by 1,500 participants during the Emergency Loya Jirga, which again elected Hamed Karzai as the President until the elections.
A steadfast figure in the liberation of Afghanistan, President Karzai always sought to remain close to his homeland. In the summer of 2001, his plan to relocate inside Afghanistan and to organize active resistance against the Taliban paid off in October 2001, when he helped liberate the province of Oruzgan. As the international coalition mounted its campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, President Karzai exerted his influence to bring the complete demise of the Taliban in the south.
Born on 24 December 1957 in Karz, Kandahar, Hamed Karzai attended Habibia High School in Kabul. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Political Science and International Relations from Shimla University, India.
In 1982, Hamed Karzai joined the Afghan National Liberation Front and served as its south-western director of operations. After completing journalism courses in Lille, France in 1985, he became the Front’s Director of Information. Two years later, he headed the Front’s Political Department.
In 1992, Hamed Karzai served as the Deputy Foreign Minister of the newly-established Government, which he left after fighting escalated in Kabul in 1994. Earlier, he had served as the liaison for foreign affairs of the Peshawar-based Afghan Interim Government, a coalition of resistance organizations.
From 1994 on, he attempted to rid Kandahar of warlordism and internecine infighting, but eventually was discouraged by the rise of the Taliban as the movement relied on foreign influence and resources and tilted toward fanaticism.
Between 1995-2000, Hamed Karzai dedicated himself to convene a Loya Jirga, and sought the Good Offices of His Majesty, Mohammed Zaher Shah, former Afghan Monarch and traveled the world over. He held meetings with officials from the United Nations, the European Union, the “Group of Six-plus-Two” and others interested in the Afghan crisis. In the course of his efforts, the Taliban assassinated his father, the late Abdul Ahad Karzai in 2000 in Quetta, Pakistan, who was a prominent member of the Afghan parliament before the war.
President Hamed Karzai was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal (July 2004), International Republican Institute’s Freedom Award (February 2003), International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award (November 2002) and the President’s Medal from Georgetown University (January 2002). He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2003.
He is married to Dr. Zenat Karzai, an Afghan physician, and speaks English, French, Urdu in addition to national languages of Afghanistan.