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


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".

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice