Hamid Karzai was born on December 24, 1957, in the village of Karz, near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, had served during Afghanistan’s war of independence and as the Deputy Speaker of the Senate. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was a tribal (Popalzai) elder and a significant national political figure, who served as the Deputy of the Parliament during the 1960s. Abdul Ahad Karzai moved with his family to Kabul when he entered the Parliament.
Hamid Karzai studied at Mahmood Hotaki Elementary School, Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani School, and Habibia High School. After graduating from high school, he traveled to India as an exchange student in 1976, and studied International Relations and Political Science at Simla University. He obtained his Master’s Degree in 1983.
Hamid Karzai then traveled to Pakistan to join the Mujahideen fighters resisting the Soviet occupation of his homeland. In 1985, he traveled to Lille, France, to attend a three-month journalism course. When he returned to Peshawar, Pakistan, he served as the Director of Information and later as the Deputy Director of the Political Office of the National Salvation Front led by Professor Sebghatullah Mujadidi. After the formation of the Mujahideen Transitional Government in 1989, he was appointed Director of the Foreign Relations Unit in the Office of the President of the Interim Government.
When the Mujahideen Government was established in Kabul in 1992, Hamid Karzai was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister. When fighting between the various Mujahideen groups intensified, he resigned his position and began to work actively for the organization of a national Loya Jirga (Grand Council). He believed that only through a Loya Jirga could Afghanistan’s difficulties be overcome, and the differences between the competing parties resolved peacefully.
In August 2000, his father Abdul Ahad Karzai, who had taken up residence in Quetta, Pakistan, where he continued to encourage his countrymen to resist the Taliban, was assassinated by the Taliban and their foreign supporters. The commitment of his family and of Pres. Karzai in particular, to ridding Afghanistan of this foreign menace was not shaken by this tragedy, and he continued to be active against the Taliban.
Hamid Karzai returned to Uruzgan Province in October 2001, and with his team worked to coordinate local efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and their supporters. On December 5, 2001, while he was still in Afghanistan leading these efforts, he was elected Chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan by participants at the UN-sponsored Bonn Conference. He, along with the appointed Cabinet, took the oath of office on December 22 in Kabul.
His role as leader of the country was confirmed by members of the Emergency Loya Jirga, when he was elected as the President of the Transitional Government on June 13, 2002. During Afghanistan’s first Presidential Election, on October 9, 2004, Hamid Karzai won 55.4% of the votes, defeating his nearest competitor by more than three million votes, and was elected to a five-year term as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai has been awarded many honors and is widely recognized globally.
In 1999, President Karzai married Dr. Zeenat Quraishi, a gynecologist. He has six brothers and one sister. He is fluent in Pashtu, Dari, Urdu and English, and enjoys riding horses and studying philosophy.