Foreign Policy Blogs

President Karzai's Cousin Killed During ISAF Night Raid

NATO and Afghan forces killed President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, one Yar Mohammed Karzai, 60 years old, during a night raid against suspected Taliban commanders.  NATO and Afghan forces searched the village of Karz, the ancestral home of the Karzai clan and detained Farid Karzai, Yar Mohammed’s son’ under suspicions that he was a Taliban commander.  During the encounter, the elder Karzai is reported to have been wielding an Ak-47 and, in the ensuing commotion, was killed by a gunshot to teh head.

According to the New York Times,  NATO ISAF soldiers and their Afghan counterparts were searching for a Taliban leader who was “responsible for distributing car bombs to fighters in the greater Kandahar area and coordinated arms shipments to the Taliban.”

NATO’s version of events is that :

“Security forces advanced to the targeted compound where they called for all occupants to exit the building peacefully before conducting searches,” the statement said. “A member observed an armed individual with an AK-47 in an adjacent building within the same compound. The security force assessed the male as an immediate threat to the security force, and engaged him. The individual killed was the father of the targeted individual.”

If true this would mean that a very close relative of President Karzai’s was actually fighting against his embattled government, the same government supported by and funded by his U.S and NATO allies.  If true this is sure to be a deeply troubling incident, well beyond the lives lost and the local reputations besmirched.

The Karzai family’s version of the story unsurprisingly differs from NATO’ account, though some of the facts are well beyond dispute.   No one disputes that Yar Mohammad was killed; nor that ISAF troops were looking about for a Taliban leader.  What has changed is culpability for Yar Karzai’s death. The Karzai family and local village leaders claim that Yar Mohammad was an elderly man, principally occupied with farming. President Karzai’s brother, and the current governor of Kandahar Province claims Yar Mohammad was killed by accident.

Little surprise then that the conflicting accounts have led to an enquiry on the event, a process that is sure to obfuscate more than enlighten.

President Karzai has long argued that ISAF night raids harm more than help the counterinsurgency effort in the South and Eastern parts of Afghanistan.  One might have thought President Karzai would have reacted furiously to the news that his kin had been killed; instead he took the news quite calmly.  Perhaps tribal infighting had pit Hamid Karzai against his older cousin, so much so that he could hardly have cracked his tight lipped grimace when he heard the news.



Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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