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Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai
Became Interim President:December 22, 2001
Date of Birth:December 24, 1957
Place of Birth:Karz village, Qandahar

Hamid Karzai (born December 24, 1957) is the unelected president of the Afghan Transitional Administration. Official elections are scheduled to take place in June 2004.

If the Constitutional loya jirga of December 2003 approves the Proposed Afghan Constitution, which would create a presidential system of government, Karzai said he would run for the position of President of Afghanistan.

Karzai was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan. 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.

He speaks six languages; Pushtu, Dari, Urdu, English, French and Hindi.

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.

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 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.

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.