In his regular radio message to the nation broadcast on the eve of Karzai's visit president Bush said that after the US invasion in Afghanistan, which overthrew the Taliban regime, all that is happening in Afghanistan – the adoption of the new Constitution, the democratic election of the president and the forthcoming general election – is a "testimony of a remarkable progress". According to him, "the nation that only a short time ago knew nothing but the terror of Taliban is now experiencing the rebirth of freedom, and the US is set to assist Afghanistan in it".
In the course of his stay in the US Khamid Karzai had talks with president Bush, state secretary Condoleezza Rice, and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld; he paid a visit to the US Congress and met with the new head of the World Bank Paul Wulfovitz. The Afghan president also received honorary master's degree of the Universities of Boston and Nebraska-Omaha.
However, as American observers noted, the general background of the visit was visibly overshadowed by the upsurge of anti-American protests held all over the Islamic world on the eve of Karzai's visit, as well as by the continued violence, kidnappings and armed attacks against foreigners in Afghanistan itself.
At the beginning of May this year 15 people had died in Afghanistan in the skirmishes between protesters and security forces following the "Newsweek" magazine publication of how US military investigators at the Guantanamo base prison had ostensibly defiled the Koran by putting it in the WC and even flushing a copy of it down the drain. As for Karzai himself, he had claimed that the disorders were instigated and the loss of life caused by the opponents of his course towards the strengthening of ties with the US and reconciliation in Afghanistan, who are trying to thwart the parliamentary election scheduled for next September.
Another annoying aspect in the relations between Washington and Kabul is the inefficacy of the struggle of the present Afghan authorities against drug production. Khamid Karzai, in particular, rejected outright the recent accusations leveled by the US State Department claiming that his government was not doing enough to reduce the production of opium – raw material for heroin production.
According to the data of international experts, since the downfall of the Taliban regime in 2001, production of raw opium in Afghanistan has sharply risen, which gave rise to serious apprehensions that Afghanistan, despite the presence of about 20 thousand foreign troops, is rapidly turning from an outpost of Al-Qaeda into a "drug state". Last year the area sown with opium poppy reached a record 129.5 thousand hectares and made nearly 90 percent of the world opium production.
A diplomatic dispatch sent recently by the US Embassy in Kabul to State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and "leaked" to the press stated that the efforts sponsored by the US to crush the world's biggest drug industry remain ineffective largely because of Karzai's "unwillingness to take tough action".
For his turn, the Afghan president said that his government "has done its part of the job" and has succeeded in reducing the area sown with opium poppy by at least 30 percent. Now, in Karzai's opinion, the international community has to come to his country's aid and provide its population with means of subsistence alternative to the opium production.
As Karzai says, instead of accusing Afghanistan, the international community had better fulfill its obligations to the Afghan people, and also not waste money on projects that it cannot effectively implement in local conditions. The Afghan leader also has his own counter complaints against and demands to make to the USA.
For instance, he would like to have a greater say in the US military operations in his country, and demands that more severe punishment be meted to those US servicemen who are guilty of maltreatment of prisoners and other offenses against local population. In particular, Karzai mentioned several cases of cruelties committed by US military warders against the inmates of the central military prison near Kabul.
Certainly, the US administration did its utmost to smooth out the differences it has in its relations with the official Kabul. Khamid Karzai is viewed as one of the key US allies, and the relative successes in Afghanistan of the "global march for freedom" undertaken by Washington are highly important for the US prestige against the background of the failing "democratization" of Iraq.
Nonetheless, the mutual accusations of Washington and Kabul, as well as the continued tension in Afghanistan and the low productivity of the efforts to put in rein the local drug mafia demonstrate once more that the problem of stabilizing and pacifying poor and weak states with a rich history of internal strife and clan-criminal traditions has no simple and quick solutions.