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Hamid Karzai's Biography

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Hamid Karzai was born on December 24, 1957 in Karz, Kandahar.

His father Abdul Ahad Karzai was a political leader and Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament.

In 1979, however, while Karzai was a student in India, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and his family fled to Quetta, Pakistan.

Karzai joined the resistance and when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, Karzai returned and served for a time in the cabinet under Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani.

In 1992 he became the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, but he left Kabul in 1994 for Kandahar, after factional fighting intensified.

Growing disenchanted with the corruption of the mujahideen he aligned himself with the Taleban but Karzai fell out with them in the mid 1990s as their extremism became more evident. This schism escalated when in 1999 his father was assassinated.

Karzai blamed the Taleban, and rallied support against them from around the world. The attacks of September 11, 2001 proved a catalyst to international action.

Karzai helped negotiate the Taleban's surrender of Kandahar, its last remaining stronghold, at the end of 2001. Karzai became interim prime minister of Afghanistan. A special session of Afghan representatives voted to appoint Karzai transitional head of state until the country held its first-ever general elections.

In December, 2004 Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first popularly elected president. At his inauguration he called for help from the international community to bolster Afghanistan's young democracy in its battle against the threats of terrorism and drugs.

Amongst those in attendance were US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

A shift in Hamid Karzai's approach to the West and the USA in particular was indicated just before his visit to the USA to see George W Bush in May 2005.

As this BBC report, Karzai shock at US Afghan 'abuse', explains, Hamid Karzai demanded action from America over the alleged abuse of prisoners by US troops in Afghanistan.

The BBC also produced a guide to the key Afghan political figures including Karzai on the eve of elections in September 2005.

In June 2006, Hamid Karzai focussed his attention on the international attitude to terrorism, saying:

"And for two years I have systematically, consistently and on a daily basis warned the international community of what was developing in Afghanistan and of the need for a change of approach in this regard."

The BBC has an article on Hamid Karzai's stance.

Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Afghanistan analyst in December 2006 reflected in an article, Afghanistan: A Job Half Done:

"His political signature has been "the big tent" approach. But what Mr Karzai views as a wise strategy to bring everyone on board, others see as a sign of weakness."

In June 2007, the BBC reported that Hamid Karzai had escaped unhurt after the Taleban fired rockets at a meeting he was addressing.

In April 2008, Hamid Karzai was again at the centre of an attack. The BBC reported how "at least one person has been killed and 11 were hurt in an attack on a military parade in Kabul attended by President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries."

A Taleban spokesperson claimed they carried out the attack and that they had not targeted Hamid Karzai, but wanted to show how easily they could get access to such events.

In November 2008, Hamid Karzai told the BBC: "I have to do a million times better by the Afghan people."

On 2 November 2009, Hamid Karzai was once again declared president of Afghanistan.

It followed weeks of controversy, after the initial election on 20 August 2009 had been determined as fraudulent and then officials scrapped a planned second round of voting scheduled for 7 November 2009 after Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the election.

In July 2011, Hamid Karzai's half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was assassinated.

In 2014, Karzai left power and Ashraf Ghani took over as the new president.

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