Hamid Karzai (born December 24, 1957) is the interim president of the Afghan Transitional Administration. He was named to the position during the Bonn Agreement, December 5, 2001. Official elections are scheduled to take place in Afghanistan in September 2004.
With the Loya Jirga of December 2003 approving the Constitution of Afghanistan, which will create a presidential system of government, Karzai said he would run for the position of President of Afghanistan.
Karzai was born in Kandahar. An ethnic Pashtun and a member of the powerful Populzai clan (from which many Afghan Kings have come), he came from a family that were among the strongest supporters of King Zahir Shah. Thus, he became involved in political landscape in Afghanistan early on. He took a postgraduate course in political science at Himachal University in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India from 1979 to 1983, then returned to financially support anti-Soviet uprisings in Afghanistan during the rest of the 1980s. After the expulsion of Soviet forces, he served as a minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Karzai speaks six languages; Pushtu, Dari, Urdu, English, French and Hindi. He is married to Zinat Karzai, a doctor by profession. They were married in 1998 and have no children.
When the Taliban emerged onto the political scene in the 1990s, Karzai was initially among their supporters. However, he later broke with the Taliban, citing distrust of their links to Pakistan. After the Taliban overthrew Rabbani in 1996, Karzai refused to serve as their U.N. ambassador. In 1997 Karzai joined many of his family members in Quetta, from where he worked to reinstate Zahir Shah. His father was assassinated, presumably by Taliban agents, July 14, 1999, and Karzai swore revenge against the Taliban by working to help overthrow it.
President Karzai reviews the first soldiers of the Afghan National Army.In 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attack, Karzai worked with agents of the United States to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan and muster support for a new government. On December 5, 2001 Afghan political leaders gathered in Bonn, Germany, and named Karzai chairman of a 29-member governing committee and leader of an interim government. The ceremony for the transfer of power took place December 22. Soon critics emerged, because he worked for the american oil company Unocal, which soon after, on December 27 signed a pipeline contract with the country of Afghanistan.
On September 5, 2002, an assassination attempt was made on Hamid Karzai in Kandahar. A gunman wearing the uniform of the new Afghan National Army opened fire, wounding the Governor of Kandahar and an American Special Operations officer. The gunman and one of the President's bodyguards were killed.
He received an honorary doctorate in literature from Himachal University on March 7, 2003.
His brother Ahmed Wali Karzai helps coordinate humanitarian assistance in the southern province of Kandahar.