KABUL -- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday that the U.S.-led war on militancy would "not be successful,” and accused Western media of waging “psychological warfare” on his country.
The outgoing leader said U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban would fail “from Afghanistan’s view” because it was being fought in Afghan villages, rather than against insurgents based in neighboring countries - an apparent allusion to Pakistan.
He said Kabul would only sign a cross-border security pact with Pakistan aimed at ironing out security differences when Afghans can be certain that "suicide bombers, terrorists, weapons and cross-border shelling" would stop.
Joint US-Afghan operations are becoming more common, and so are the risks. NBC's Lester Holt reports.
Karzai was speaking at a press conference at his Kabul garden palace which was broadcast live on Afghan state television.
He told reporters he would hold presidential elections on time in 2014 - when his term will end - despite a continuing insurgency and concerns about a simultaneous NATO combat troop exit.
"The election will definitely happen. Go on and choose your own favorite candidate. My term, if prolonged by even a day, will be seen as illegitimate," Karzai said.
On Saturday night, an Afghan soldier approached Americans, killing a soldier and a contractor; with that, the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan is around 2,100 in the United States' 11-year-war in the country. Insider attacks have become increasingly common – and no one seems to have a good answer about how to stop them. NBC's Lester Holt and Richard Engel report from Kabul.
Karzai's increasingly unpopular government has been mulling a change in election timing to avoid overlapping with the drawdown of U.S.-led NATO forces due to be completed by the end of 2014, when security is handed to Afghan forces.
Opposition parties had expressed concern that Karzai might act outside the constitution on poll timing, or try to install an ally as his successor to maintain an influence on power.
NBC's Richard Engel examines America's progress after fighting for more than a decade in Afghanistan. Is there any evidence that the American plan to hand over a credible, stable Afghan government will work?
Karzai also took aim at foreign media outlets, which he accused of painting a "doomsday scenario" of Afghanistan after the NATO pullout, despite promises of international aid and security assistance from Western military backers.
He said international media were conducting "psychological warfare" against the country's international reputation by suggesting it would fall apart after the NATO withdrawal and that the Taliban would likely return to power.
Karzai: US media launched psychological war & propaganda against Afghanistan to undermine people's self confidence "not something allies do"— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervillebbc) October 4, 2012
BBC journalist Quentin Sommerville said Karzai told the conference: “If the objective of this propaganda campaign is to show that Afghanistan is weak and undermine people's self confidence, this is not something allies do.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Sahar Parniyan, 22, is Afghanistan's most famous actress. She stars in the country's number one comedy, "The Ministry," an offshoot of the popular US TV show, "The Office." After receiving death threats, she is now in hiding. NBC's Atia Abawi reports.
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