Revealed: Karzai's secret plans to cling on to power in Afghanistan

Western intelligence report claims President is hoping to change constitution and rule indefinitely

Bonn

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is secretly planning to stay in power when his second and constitutionally final term ends in three years' time, according to a Western intelligence report seen by The Independent.

Mr Karzai, it is claimed, wants to emulate Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who, similarly blocked from holding office for a third consecutive term, handed the Presidency to Dmitri Medvedev in 2008. Mr Putin is seeking a return to the Kremlin in March.

The supposed plans of Mr Karzai are set out in a document compiled by Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND. It comes on the day an international summit in Bonn, chaired by the Afghan president, is seeking to chart the future of Afghanistan after Nato ends its combat mission in 2014.

The disclosure will raise questions in the international community, which is expected to donate up to $10bn (£6.4bn) in aid to Afghanistan for a decade after the withdrawal. Mr Karzai is due to leave office in 2014 and there had been hope among Western governments of a fresh start with a successor who would not be dogged by allegations of corruption and human rights abuses.

The BND report, produced two months ago and marked "top secret", is said to be based on information supplied by Afghan public figures, including allies of Mr Karzai. The Afghan President is believed to be considering holding a loya jirga, or grand council, to change the Afghan constitution and allow him to remain in power.

It is claimed that Mr Karzai had wanted special dispensation to run for a third term and guide the country through the period of uncertainty following Western military disengagement. However, he was told this would be unacceptable both within the country and internationally. Instead, he has decided to establish the post of prime minister, to which he will aim to be appointed.

Mr Karzai's first choice for a figurehead president was said to be Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former president of the country. But, following his assassination in September, with the alleged involvement of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, the Afghan leader is said to have sounded out a number of other potential candidates.

Foremost among them are former commanders of the Northern Alliance. Negotiations have been held, it is claimed, with Younis Quanoni, the speaker of the lower house in the Kabul parliament; Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a former defence minister and vice-president, and Mohammed Atta Noor, the governor of Balkh province in the north of the country.

General Atta, who was sent to the north of the country by the Afghan government as a counterweight to the Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, is said to be disinclined to return to the internecine politics of Kabul. The German intelligence service also maintains that Mr Quanoni was at first suspicious of the Afghan president's overtures, believing it was "an attempt to drive a wedge through the Northern Alliance", but that he is now "having second thoughts about it". Marshal Fahim, it is claimed, has been discussing the offer with his officials.

All three men are Tajiks, while Mr Karzai is from the majority Pashtun community, and thus would provide an electoral ticket with an attractive ethnic mix for Afghanistan.

Western states, however, will have concerns about the potential running mates: Marshal Fahim had been accused of human rights abuses by US officials. Mr Quanoni and General Atta have been accused of corruption, charges they both deny.

Although President Karzai has faced frequent criticism from politicians in Western Europe and the US – especially following his election victory in 2009, which was mired in allegations of fraud – he has shown resilience by staying in power and has taken an increasingly combative stance against Nato, condemning air strikes which have resulted in deaths of civilians and demanding an end to "night raids" in which Taliban targets are captured or killed in their homes.

Western officials acknowledge privately that, despite concerns about Mr Karzai, there remains a lack of an alternative leader. Javed Ludin, the Afghan foreign minister, insisted yesterday in Bonn that Mr Karzai had no intention of seeking a third term. "I am convinced that he will go when the time comes, after all that is what he has always said." The Afghan president stated on the eve of the conference that he intended to retire in 2014 as "a pensioner and happy citizen".

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said at the summit yesterday: "President Karzai has said himself that he will be going in 2014, let us take him at his word." The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she looked forward to "inclusive, fair and credible presidential elections and a peaceful and democratic transfer of power in 2014".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick