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Former Afghan President Karzai Still Working For An Inclusive Taliban Government

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai (center) and former head of the Afghan reconciliation council, Abdullah Abdullah (right), meet with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani (left) on September 12.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he's hopeful the Taliban-led government will eventually become inclusive and draw its strength from domestic legitimacy, which he says is the key to earning international recognition.

Karzai said in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi that he continues to urge Taliban leaders to diversify their administration after last week's announcement of an all-male cabinet made up of its senior leaders and dominated by Pashtuns.

"The current [Taliban] government is a caretaker government," Karzai told Radio Azadi by telephone from the Afghan capital, Kabul. "Our hope was that it would be inclusive -- we are still trying to achieve that. Our advice to our Taliban brothers is that the sooner they can make an inclusive government in which all the people of Afghanistan can see themselves, that will help bring stability and better serve [the Afghan people]."

Karzai, 63, ruled Afghanistan for more than 13 years, leaving office in 2014. He was first chosen as the leader of a transitional government for Afghanistan in December 2001 after the demise of the hard-line Taliban regime following a U.S.-led invasion. He was then elected to two five-year terms starting in 2004.

He remained a prominent Afghan political figure after peacefully transferring power to his successor, Ashraf Ghani, in September 2014. Karzai went on to frequently appear in the Afghan and international media where he campaigned for peace in his country through reconciliation among Afghans.

He is now urging the Taliban to strengthen unity among Afghans and particularly women, which will help the regime gain recognition and continued aid from the global community.

"It is crucial for our country that our contact with the world is based on internal legitimacy and our representative government can be a mirror of Afghanistan -- this will be beneficial," he said. "Until we reach that stage we should strive to be in contact with the world to attract aid. The current government…and all Afghans have the responsibility to cultivate relations with the world so that they result in aid and assistance so that our international contacts are not severed."

As the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, Karzai remained in the capital even after Ghani fled. He formed a committee with Abdullah Abdullah, former head of the Afghan reconciliation council, and Hizb-e Islami political and paramilitary group leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to facilitate a transfer of power to the Taliban.

“During the first 10 days [after the Taliban took over] Abdullah and I did everything to ensure calm and stability,” he said. “Our informal discussions with the Taliban leaders were positive and focused on national issues.”

When the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, Karzai appeared in an online video with his three young daughters to try to reassure Kabul residents at an uneasy time.

“Me and my family are here with you and hope that the problems of our country and our capital are solved peacefully through talks,” he said.

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    RFE/RL's Radio Azadi

    RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is one of the most popular and trusted media outlets in Afghanistan. Nearly half of the country's adult audience accesses Azadi's reporting on a weekly basis.