Leaked cables portray Afghan President as paranoid

Hamid Karzai is regularly described by diplomats as erratic and emotional.

Updated: Dec 03, 2010, 13:09 PM IST

London: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is regularly described by diplomats and foreign statesmen as erratic, emotional and prone to believing paranoid conspiracy theories, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks.

According to the Guardian, on some occasions Karzai’s own ministers accuse him of complicity in criminal activity, including ordering the physical intimidation of the top official in charge of leading negotiations with the Taliban.

In memos back to Washington, US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, adopted a particularly weary tone when describing bizarre meetings with Karzai.

In one in 2009, Karzai argued that the US intended to “divide Pakistan and weaken Afghanistan in order to pursue its fight against terrorist groups”.

He also believed that the US and Iran were working together to support his main political rival in the Presidential Elections.

Eikenberry concluded that it was unlikely Karzai would ever break his habit of blaming the US and its allies for Afghanistan’s troubles and not addressing his own shortcomings.

“Indeed his inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building and his deep seated insecurity as a leader combine to make any admission of fault unlikely, in turn confounding our best efforts to find in Karzai a responsible partner,” a cable said.

Eikenberry also identified two competing personalities in Karzai.

“The first is a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation-building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed,” a cable said.

“The other is that of an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero who can save the country from being divided by the decentralisation-focused agenda of Abdullah [Karzai’s main rival in the 2009 election],” it added.