Karzai criticised over choice of running mate

Afghan President Hamid Karzai registered to run for re-election yesterday, but was criticised for naming a former guerrilla chief accused of rights abuses as his senior running mate.

As the August 20 election draws closer, Karzai appears to be approaching an all but unassailable position, with the opposition struggling to name a contender with a broad enough support base to win.

"I have taken this decision for the welfare and interest of the people of Afghanistan," Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since 2001, said of his decision to seek a second term.

"We will endeavour to bring security, peace and tranquillity to Afghanistan," he told reporters outside the offices of the electoral commission. "As in the past, we will make mistakes ... but we will be in the service of the Afghan nation."

Karzai selected former Defence Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim as his senior vice president, ignoring the pleas of the head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan who met the president several times in recent days to persuade him to pick someone else.

UN envoy Kai Eide was "saddened" and "disturbed" by the choice of Fahim, a one-time guerrilla chief rights groups have linked to accusations of abuse, said a source close to Eide.

Brad Adams, Asia director of New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch, said: "To see Fahim back in the heart of government would be a terrible step backwards for Afghanistan."

"He is one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands from the civil war."

Fahim could not be immediately reached for comment.

After registering, Karzai left for Washington to meet US President Barack Obama for the first time since his inauguration.

Relations between Karzai and the new US administration have been strained because of senior US officials' open criticism of Karzai's effectiveness at tackling corruption, but US officials have toned down their comments lately.

The United States is more than doubling its troops in Afghanistan this year, from 32,000 at the start of the year to a projected 68,000 by year's end. Violence has reached its highest level since the Taliban's 2001 overthrow and Obama has declared Afghanistan and Pakistan to be a US foreign policy priority.

The Taliban, mounting an insurgency in the south, called the election a fraud by Washington and urged Afghans to boycott it.

In a statement on militant Web site alemarah1.org, Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor, the head of the Taliban's political commission, said guerrillas would fight until all foreign troops left Afghanistan and the poll would not change their stance.

At least 27 people were killed in attacks yesterday, including a provincial mayor blown up by a suicide bomber, a common Taliban tactic. A roadside bomb killed 12 civilians.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea