NEW YORK - Afghan President Hamid Karzai, once regarded as a hero by the Bush administration, has fallen out of favour at home and abroad, according to a US media report. At home, Karzai is facing a booming Taliban insurgency and the widespread perception he is to blame for the lack of economic progress and rampant corruption. Abroad, US President Barack Obama says he regards Karzai as unreliable, The New York Times said Sunday. "The Americans making Afghan policy, worried that the war is being lost, are vowing to bypass Karzai and deal directly with the governors in the countryside," the newspaper said. "The world has changed for Karzai, and for Afghanistan, too. A White House favourite - a celebrity in flowing cape and dark grey fez - in each of the seven years that he has led this country since the fall of the Taliban, Karzai now finds himself not so favoured at all. Not by Washington, and not by his own," the Times said. "Under President Karzai, we have gone from a better situation to a good situation to a not-so-bad situation to a bad situation - and now are going to worse," Abdullah, Karzai's former foreign minister who may now challenge him for the presidency, was quoted as saying. "That is the trend." Karzai has taken to verbally attacking US officials, the newspaper said. Last week he accused unnamed Americans of trying to "pressure" him to stay silent over the deaths of Afghan civilians, it said. At a recent Press conference, Karzai acknowledged his own unpopularity, and then offered a vigorous defence of his record. "Well, I have been in government for seven years. It's natural that I would not be as popular now as I was seven years ago," Karzai said. "The institutions of Afghanistan have worked very well," he added. "The Afghan people participated in the election for president. They participated in elections for Parliament. The parliamentary system has been functioning a lot better than some established parliaments in the world. They have been making laws, approving laws. The government institutions are increasingly in progress - the economy, the national army, the growth of education. We went from almost two or three universities in 2002 to 17 universities, to the freedom of the Press, hundreds of newspapers and radios and all that. I and the Afghan people are proud of our achievements." Defending Karzai, US Ambassador William Wood said, "The guy works very hard. He faces a problem set every day that would daunt anyone. He's got an insurgency based outside the country, and a level of poverty and criminality inside the country that feeds the insurgency." In a separate dispatch on US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke's upcoming visit to India, the Times said that along with the rest of Obama's foreign policy staff, he is also trying to redefine success in the region, shifting away from former President George W Bush's grand, transformative goals toward something more achievable. "There is a reason for this wide-ranging tour: because official Afghan and Pakistani leaders are seen as weak, Holbrooke may have to seek alternative partners, a task to which he is naturally suited," according to Wesley Clark, a retired Army general. "Richard Holbrooke sees power the way an artist sees colour," General Clark was quoted as saying.