Naveed Ahmad is a journalist and academic with a special focus on governance, security and diplomacy. He reports for various international online and electronic news sources. The views expressed in this blog do not reflect those of the ISN, the CSS, ETH Zurich or any affiliated agencies.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is quite resourceful when it comes to creating ripples in the media. And that is the only thing he is good at. With American generals and NATO troops protecting Kabul, the Afghan president tirelessly designs colorful robes, worn in a funny way amid high profile dignitaries. The happy-go-lucky Afghan was enjoying the limelight in Bonn when his peaceful country fell prey to terrorism.
While everyone condemned the gory killing of 58 Shiite pilgrims, Mr Karzai sacrificed his shopping trip to London, where mercury and prices nosedive ahead of Christmas. No wonder, only a dedicated, full-time statesman would do so. For once, he thought of a quick stop-over in the United Kingdom. But in the interest of visually-starved media back home, the Afghan president descended on the Kabul airport. Soon, a bunch of loyal American commandoes enveloped their beloved friend and shipped him to the president‘s palace where Afghan and western journalists dashed to record his fireworks.
Beaming at cameras lined up in the arrival lounge, Karzai soon wore an angry look, denouncing terrorism in the free land of Afghanistan, whose prosperity and sovereignty irked the larger eastern neighbor.
Karzai’s superb PR skills ensured that each question came loaded with the most appropriate answer. Making full use of his Indian education Karzai shot verbal hellfire missiles on Pakistan, categorically blaming its government of disrupting the most peaceful atmosphere of a land with zero crime rate and stockpiles of wheat and gold.
The press conference was quite a success with three dozen SLR cameras and a roughly equal number of TV journalists shooting and filming him in a brand new signature attire, dramatic facial expressions and animated body language. While leaving the press room, he directed his Tajik advisor to accompany TV cameramen on helicopters bound for Mazar-i-Sharif, where terrorists had struck on Ashura day. Moments later, the courageous Afghan leader was airborne on an armored helicopter with a dozen US commandoes. Kudos to his self-discipline, the president wasted no time in finding a new suit and multi-color robe.
Meanwhile in the historic northern city, the Afghan equivalent of James Bond had gathered ‘undeniable’ evidence of Pakistani involvement in the spilling of the blood of the innocent pilgrims. Just recently, Karzai had turned down an Interpol request of borrowing Afghan investigators to track down top Italian mafia leaders.
As the Afghan ‘Air Force 1’ landed along with two choppers carrying truth-hungry media personnel, Mazar-i-Sharif residents were rejoicing a rare visit by their president. His hometown Kandahar has never been so lucky though. Peaceful, prosperous and enlightened Afghans love their leader head over heels, no matter if they get to see him or not.
By the time Karzai arrived in the five-star hospital, he had spoken to a dozen western, largely American, TV and radio channels about the rare peace-shattering event in the country’s history. He was fully ready to lambast enemies of Afghan solidarity and sectarian harmony.
During a photo session, the president heard eye witness accounts of the blast and thanked his stars for being in the cozy confines of Bonn. Karzai smartly overcame his nervousness when an 11-year daughter of an injured pilgrim questioned him: “Can we not catch the terrorists before they reach us? Where are our military and police when they reach to attack the Afghans?”
As if he never heard the girl say something, the president followed his script. Raising his voice, he replied: “Those who kill Afghans are neither Muslims nor human beings.”
Although his attempt to dampen his eyes was far from being successful, Karzai could make it up with his sobering voice.
“Afghanistan takes this very seriously. It is the issue of the life of the people which we will fully follow up with Pakistan”, he said. “We can’t let go and ignore the blood of our children.”
While the Afghan leader repeated himself for the one hundredth time, he whispered that, for the next fortnight, he won’t be out of news headlines.
As his entourage raced to the helipad, foreign journalists were awe-struck by the multi-storey marble-studded Mediterranean style homes, lush green golf courses, Jaguars, Mercedes and Audis parked in almost all colors of the rainbow.
Tomorrow’s historian would commend President Hamid Karzai’s reign for unmatchable Afghan sovereignty, peace and affluence. And also, the way he warded off countless conspiracies and threats to his beloved homeland with crispy soundbites and refreshing robes.