WASHINGTON – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has maintained that the United States is fighting war on terror ‘on wrong side of the border’.

In an interview with American newspaper The Daily Beast published on Saturday, Hamid Karzai said “They [the Americans] were not happy with the way I stood up for certain issues in Afghanistan such as [NATO-caused] civilian casualties, night raids, and relations with Pakistan.”  On Pakistan, Karzai said he believes the Americans are fighting on the wrong side of the border. “The war on terror in my view [should not have been fought] in Afghanistan, in Afghan villages and homes,” he added. “But in the [Pakistani] sanctuaries, and the training, motivational and financial grounds that [the Taliban] have there. And the US did not go there for 10 years. We know where the troubles were coming from but they [the Americans] did nothing about it.”

He is also miffed that the US has been talking to the Taliban behind his back over the setting up of a Taliban representative office in the Gulf state of Qatar, even after Washington insists that the peace process must be Afghan led and Afghan owned. “[It’s] definitely not [Afghan led,”] he said.

“That’s the problem. We have told the Americans that.” Even so, he said he will support the Qatar option for talks. “We will go along with it for the return of peace to Afghanistan as soon as possible.”

He also said that he ‘welcomed’ the statement by US Vice President Joe Biden that the Taliban ‘are not the enemy per se’. “We hope that [statement] will end all the reasons and excuses for the causing of casualties and harm to the Afghan people.” Karzai said he and his government will maintain their own negotiating track with the Taliban. “We have contacts with our fellow countrymen, the Taliban,” he said. “It will continue.” He added that he believes that the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is alive and is most probably living in Pakistan, though he admits he does not have any direct contact with Omar. “If I did [have contact] I’d call him right now and say: ‘Let’s talk, Afghan to Afghan’.”  He also said he believed that most Taliban are interested in peace despite their propaganda statements insisting that no negotiations are possible until all foreign forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“I think a great many of them are interested in peace,” he said. “At least those who are Afghans and have families in Afghanistan.” He added that there’s another category of insurgent “who is in the pay of this or that intelligence agency,” perhaps a reference to the Haqqani Network, which is close to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

“Of course, they do not want peace. But the majority [of the Taliban] do.”

He believes Pakistan could squeeze the Taliban into negotiating seriously if it wanted. “[Pakistan] can and should [squeeze the Taliban] including Mullah Omar,” he said. “Pakistan does have a major role to play with regard to those Taliban whom it accommodates in its own territory. The Pakistani connection to the Taliban is old and real. It is not a fantasy.”

Karzai believes that Pakistan unfortunately does not have what he calls “an independent policy toward Afghanistan.” “It’s as if Pakistan’s policy toward Afghanistan is driven by [the quality of its] relations, either good or bad, with India or the US,” he said. With Pakistan-US relations at an all-time nadir right now, Pakistan is not about to be helpful in the peace process, at least according to Karzai’s calculation.