President Hamid Karzai warned the international community Wednesday to avoid meddling in governing Afghanistan as the country prepares to go to the polls to elect a new president later this year. Speaking alongside NATO's secretary-general, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that his government's foreign partners should respect and honor his country's independence. Afghanistan ... will never be a puppet state,'' Karzai said. Karzai faces re-election in August, at a time when the country is embroiled in a vicious Taliban-led insurgency, and the performance of his government has been criticized by the incoming President Barack Obama's administration and other Western capitals as inefficient and corrupt.