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Afghans React to Karzai's U.S. Trip

U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House (12May2010)
(WASHINGTON/KABUL) Afghans calling in to RFE/RL's Radio Azadi yesterday offered their thoughts on President Karzai's trip to Washington.

On a popular weekly two-hour program, listeners called in to discuss the trip with two in-studio guests: Mir Ahmad Joenda, a member of the Afghan National Assembly, and Dr. Wadeer Safi, a professor from Kabul University.

"Karzaiā€™s trip will bring nothing for us," said Dr. Ashraf, who called from Nangarhar Province.

"This was a trip to reconcile with the Americans. The main issue for us, though, is peace with the Taliban. If Mr. Karzai can secure the Taliban's participation, a peace Jirga [tribal assembly] could be successful."

Another listener, Momen Faqirzada from an unidentified location, complained of Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan.

"In the past, the Pakistan Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency interfered in our affairs and dragged us into fighting. They divided us...I want all Afghans to realize that now is the time to rebuild Afghanistan. We must set aside why America came to Afghanistan. We have to take advantage of the American presence and rebuild our country."

I want all Afghans to realize that now is the time to rebuild Afghanistan.

As Karzai wrapped up his trip to Washington, Joenda said the Afghan president and the Americans "must both learn from the mistakes they made.

"The U.S. needs a new commitment to Afghanistan. And the Afghan government must commit itself to eliminating corruption, bringing good governance, the rule of law, and social justice."

Dr. Safi said Karzai's trip underscored that U.S.-Afghan relations are in a new era.

"The trip was needed at this time because Karzai was close to President Bush, who did not monitor his performance," he said. "But Obama is different. Now, both he and Karzai have agreed on new U.S. commitments to security, health, agriculture, the economy, and many other sectors in Afghanistan."

About Radio Azadi

RFE/RL's Afghan Service, known locally as Radio Azadi, is the most popular media outlet in Afghanistan. Radio Azadi produces a variety of programming, including news, investigative features, political satire, literary programs and music. It is noted particularly for its numerous programs dedicated to women's rights, youth issues, and democracy. Over the years, Radio Azadi has received thousands of letters from listeners throughout the country and across the region.