Virtually entering into a verbal clash with President Hamid Karzai, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said on Wednesday that he would not apologise to him.
“I will not apologise to Karzai or any other corrupt leader. Afghanistan is failing because Karzai and his corrupt clique are incompetent leaders, not because the US hasn’t pumped enough money or blood to help the brave people of Afghanistan,” he said.
Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, told the CNN in an interview: “Karzai says that he resents a foreigner being involved in the issue of reforming the constitution.
“Let me remind President Karzai that the constitution was written by foreigners. He likes the current one so much because it was drafted by a Pashtun-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, who believes, like Karzai, that their ethnic groups should rule over the others…” he added.
A day earlier, Karzai said he would not allow Rohrabacher to enter the country, alleging that he was trying to divide the country. Rohrabacher took a strong objection to the presidential remarks during an interview with the American TV network.
Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the disagreement, Karzai said he is against letting Rohrabacher into the country.
"Until he changes his tongue, until he shows respect to the Afghan people, to our way of life and to our constitution ... No foreigner has a place asking another people, another country to change their constitution. Have we ever asked the United States to change its constitution?" Karzai said in an exclusive interview that aired Monday on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Last month, Rohrabacher was asked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to travel on to Afghanistan with a congressional delegation that he was part of as it visited the region, after Karzai said the congressman was not welcome.
Both Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Rohrabacher it was not a good idea to travel to Afghanistan based on their own conversations with Karzai. Rohrabacher agreed, and did not travel on with the delegation from its previous stop in Dubai.
Coming on the heels of revelations of U.S. soldiers burning Qurans, and the alleged killing of Afghan civilians at the hands of a U.S. soldier, Clinton told Rohrabacher the timing of the visit was not right
In the interview that aired Monday, Karzai said he is firm on his position on Rohrabacher not because the congressman is "dangerous," but as a "matter of principle."
"Freedom of speech is good, we respect that, but the freedom of speech with regard to other countries is another issue," Karzai told Blitzer.
Rohrabacher later released a statement through his office saying he would not "apologize to Karzai or any other corrupt leader.
"Afghanistan is failing because Karzai and his corrupt clique are incompetent leaders, not because the U.S. hasn't pumped enough money or blood to help the brave people of Afghanistan ... Right now, I'm more concerned with getting American troops out of that country so they won't continue to needlessly die than I am getting myself into Afghanistan to meet with officials like Karzai," Rohrabacher said in the statement.
“It is Karzai who is ruling in a manner that does not fit Afghan society or culture. Afghanistan’s ethnic leaders do not want all the power held centrally by one man. I’ve never advocated splitting the country, however a federated structure suggested by the Northern Alliance will bring the ethnically diverse people together as opposed to having one entity try to rule from Kabul by fiat, which is a recipe for continued violence,” Rohrabacher observed.
The structure of the current constitution had allowed Karzai and his family to enrich themselves off American aid money, he continued. Karzai had banned him from Afghanistan because he was leading an investigation into his stealing US funds meant to defeat terrorism, the legislator claimed.
“Karzai wants to muzzle any discussion about good governance in Afghanistan and the State Department has been quietly going along because they, like Karzai, hold the myopic view that only one ethnic group can rule Afghanistan,” he said.
According to him, the irony is after 9/11 America forced Karzai on the people of Afghanistan. The State Department threatened to withhold all aid to rebuild Afghanistan unless Karzai was put in, the congressman said, adding it was done to placate the Pakistanis.
“I have deep respect for the Afghan people and proven it time and again whether it was organising a coalition against the Taliban or in the battlefield with the mujahedeen fighting against the Russians. I don’t remember seeing or hearing Karzai’s name during that time period. Where was he?” the Congressman asked.
“Right now, I’m more concerned with getting American troops out of there so they won’t continue to needlessly die than I am getting myself into Afghanistan to meet with officials like Karzai who will be out of office before our troops are out of Afghanistan. Now is the perfect time to discuss what form of government and under whose leadership, we will leave behind as we withdraw,” Rohrabacher concluded.