Childhood & Early Life
Hamid Karzai was born on December 24, 1957 in the Karz area of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Both of his parents are ethnic Pashtun members of the Popalzai tribe. He has six brothers.
Hamid's father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in Afghanistan in the 1960s. His uncle, Habibullah Karzai, was Afghanistan's representative to the United Nations in the same period.
He attended ‘Mahmood Hotaki Primary School’ in Kandahar. Later, he moved to Kabul to study at the ‘Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School’. Hamid graduated from ‘Habibia High School’ in Kabul, in 1976.
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After graduating from high school, he traveled to India to study at Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla. In 1979, while overseas, the Soviet Union invaded Karzai's homeland of Afghanistan.
In 1983, Hamid successfully obtained his master's degree. He then moved to Pakistan to work as a fundraiser for anti-government rebels in his homeland.
Karzai began working for the ‘Central Intelligence Agency’ (CIA) at this time, funneling money and weapons from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and the United States to the rebels in Afghanistan.
In 1988, he returned to Afghanistan to work with the anti-government rebels in Tarinkot. Using his family connections, Hamid rallied his tribe to remove government forces from the city.
In 1992, the Soviet-installed government of Mohammed Najibullah collapsed. Karzai participated in drafting the ‘Peshawar Accords’, an important treaty that restored democracy in the country.
In recognition of his contribution to the rebel cause, he was appointed as Deputy First Minister of the government, in 1992. Unfortunately a short while later he was arrested for allegedly spying for a recalcitrant rebel leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hamid however managed to escape from Kabul.
In 1996, the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ was pronounced by a ruling faction of religious ideologues that would later become known as the Taliban. As many of the Taliban were former anti-government rebels, Karzai initially supported their rise to power.
In 1999, Karzai's father was killed in Quetta, Pakistan. Members of the Taliban were blamed for the murder, and he switched his support to an opposition group that came to be known as the Northern Alliance.
On October 7, 2001, the United States military spearheaded an invasion of Afghanistan. Together with the Northern Alliance, the military coalition quickly overthrew the government.
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On December 22, 2001, he was appointed the president of Afghanistan by a coalition of foreign political leaders. The next year, the ruling tribal administration in Afghanistan swore loyalty to Karzai.
In 2004, this industrious leader rejected a demand by foreign leaders and organizations to cease poppy production in Afghanistan. Poppies, a key precursor to the production of heroin, were deemed too economically necessary for the country's numerous subsistence farmers.
Karzai successfully competed for the office of president for the first time in a free election, in 2004. Although he faced charges of abuse of government resources for his campaign, he swept the polls in 21 out of 34 provinces.
Although he was extremely unpopular, this dynamic politician managed to successfully be re-elected as president in 2009. Scorned for alleged involvement in corruption and ties to the Taliban, Hamid managed to eke out a scant victory during the second run-off round of the elections.
In 2011, he signed several strategic partnership agreements with India. This ambitious leader also enjoyed good relationships with Pakistan.
In September 29, 2014, Karzai's term in office expired. He has since stepped down from the public spotlight.