US, Muslims need to show reciprocity: Karzai

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai speaking the US-Islamic World Forum at Ritz Carlton

10 June 2013 – Gulf Times
By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

The West led by the United States needs to explain to the Muslim world that it dealt with the Israel-Palestine issue impartially and it wholly respected the aspirations of the Palestinians for an independent and sovereign state, that stands side by side with Israel, said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai while delivering the keynote address yesterday at the opening of the 10th annual US-Islamic World Forum at the Ritz Carlton Doha.

Karzai, who was making his second appearance at the forum in less than five years, hosted by the Brookings Institution in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar also said the Muslim world needs to demonstrate its tolerance to the rest of the world in reciprocity to the good intentions and initiatives of the United States to reach out to the members of the Muslim community all over the world. “Today the West is not looking at the Muslim world from the perspective of colonialism which itself is a good thing and a way forward”, he said.

“As a Muslim I don’t want Israel to go. Rather I would like to see Israel remain as much a  sovereign state as an independent Palestine alongside”, said Karzai, while extending his support to the cause of Palestinian state, which he said, has all along been a dream that was more than six-decades old.   

Even while acknowledging the support extended by the US and the Western world to the Afghans in their war of resistance against the Soviet invasion, Karzai said he along with many members of the Muslim world wondered if the US’ war on terror had proved to be counter-productive, with a larger section of the Muslim youth, especially those in his own Afghanistan and Pakistan turning more radical than ever before.

The Afghan leader also felt that many issues that the Muslim World is confronting these days are the results of injustice, bad governance and also probably the contribution of some external elements as well.

The speaker, however, added that the support extended by the US, the Nato and Afghanistan’s friends in the Muslim world had helped the students and youth of his country considerably in the last one decade. “When I took over the reins of Afghanistan in 2001, there were only 2 or 3 namesake universities in our war-shattered country and only a microscopic minority of the children could access education at the university level, he recalled. “However, now more than 150,000 students can access education in 20 public and 30 private universities, all of which were established during the last one decade, said Karzai while expressing his gratitude to the US and the Muslim world.

Karzai also hailed the support extended by the US and Muslim world in successfully resisting the efforts of the former Soviet Union to impose Communism in his country.

Earlier Deputy Premier of Qatar HE Ahmed bin Abdullah bin al-Mahmoud said the formation of  the forum had helped the US and Islamic world strengthen their relations   and helped pave way for effecting corrections in misconceptions and misperceptions of each other over the years.
“We are pleased by the deliberations at the forum and are keen to follow with interest its discussions and seeing its positive effects, which are represented by a deep understanding and mutual respect for each other,” said al-Mahmoud.

The forum, he said, has become a platform for constructive dialogues and fruitful discussions for solid, well-established and positive relations between the Islamic world and the United States based on mutual understanding, respect and common interests.

Secretary General of Organisation for Islamic Co-operation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, US Under Secretary of the State for Public Affairs Tara Soneshine and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Benin Republic Nassirou Bako Arifari also spoke.

Vice president and director of foreign policy at Brookings, United States Martin Indyk anchored the session.