Qayum Karzai

Abdul Qayum Karzai or Qayyum Karzai (born 1947) is businessman and politician in Afghanistan. He is the elder brother of President Hamid Karzai. His brothers also include the controversial Mahmoud Karzai and the assassinated Ahmed Wali Karzai, both embroiled by allegations of widespread corruption in Afghanistan and other serious charges. Abdul Qayum was a businessman in the United States before entering into Afghan politics. He served as a member of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan.[1] He retired due to health reasons and "reportedly been involved in back-channel peace diplomacy with the Taliban through Saudi Arabia."[2]

Abdul Qayyum Karzai
Born1947 (age 73–74)

It was reported in June 2012 that he planned to run in the 2014 Afghan presidential election.[3] His brother, Mahmoud Karzai was promoting Qayum Karzai for President as Hamid Karzai prepares his departure from office in 2014.[4][5]

However, under pressure from his brother President Hamid Karzai, Qayum decided to quit the race in March 2014 and endorse Zalmai Rassoul.[6]

Family and early lifeEdit

He is the son of Abdul Ahad Karzai and an elder brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. His other brothers are Mahmoud Karzai, involved in the Kabul Bank scandal and other scandals, Ahmed Wali Karzai who was assassinated by his bodyguard, and Shah Wali Karzai. He also has at least one sister named Fauzia Karzai. According to a report by the Navy Postgraduate School, the Karzai family is from the Popolzai tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. The report states that Qayum has a Masters of Arts from the American University, and he owns five restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland. Page text.[7]

Political careerEdit

In 2002, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appointed Qayum Karzai as a delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga.[8] He sat on the second of the Loya Jirga's ten committees, chaired by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.[9]

Many Afghans are critical of Qayum Karzai, for various reasons, including his very close connections to his controversial brothers Mahmoud Karzai and assassinated Ahmed Wali Karzai, and for his poor attendance in parliament. In the summer of 2008, the speaker of the parliament, Yunus Qanuni began publishing the regular attendance tallies, and this put added pressure on Karzai to respond. In October 2008, Qayum Karzai gave up his seat in the parliament and cited health problems as the reason he missed so many parliamentary sessions.[10]

Qayum Karzai has also reportedly been involved in secret meetings to work out some sort of peace agreement with the former Taliban government. He has traveled to Saudi Arabia to enlist their help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, and ending the Taliban insurgency against the Afghan government.[10]

He had intended to run for president in the 2014 presidential election to succeed his brother, despite not having Hamid's support. However, he dropped out of the race in early March 2014, endorsing Zalmai Rassoul.[11]

Life in the United StatesEdit

Qayum Karzai owns three restaurants in central Baltimore: the Helmand (an Afghan restaurant),[12] as well as Tapas Teatro, and Helmand Kabobi. Karzai resides in Columbia, Maryland.[13]

Allegations regarding business dealingsEdit

Independent, investigative journalists, Afghan businessmen and others have alleged that Qayum Karzai has used questionable and heavy-handed methods in Afghanistan, especially in dealing with business rivals. Some have brought forth serious ethics charges and alleged organized effort to control the news media in parts of Afghanistan and to intimidate business rivals, allegedly driving some out of Afghanistan. In 2012, shocking revelations were exposed in several major news stories where fellow Afghan associates of Qayum Karzai brought forth serious allegations about various controversial business dealings.

Naseem Pashtoon Sharifi, a businessman, and major independent newspaper, media and advertising company owner, in Kandahar is reported to have been driven out of Afghanistan by these methods and went public with major and detailed accusations against Qayum Karzai and his associates. Sharifi reportedly fled Afghanistan out of fear of President Karzai's brother and has detailed information about Qayum Karzai's alleged business dealings in Afghanistan that he says caused him to flee for his life and abandon major business ventures, property and investments in Afghanistan.

According to investigative reporter Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star (24 December 2010): "But further investigation shows Sharifi’s story is far from one man’s grudge. Four other Kandahar sources, speaking to the Star on condition of anonymity, confirmed his account that Karzai muscle-flexing removed him from the city, with Karzai interests promptly taking over the bulk of his business."[14]

Journalists from the Toronto Star in Canada, the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Boiling Frog Post (, and others have raised concerns have undertaken investigative reporting about these matters.[15]

According to journalist Michael Hughes writing for the Washington Examiner (18 April 2012) and Salem News: "Qayum's control of the media has reduced southern Afghanistan to a de facto totalitarian state. This doesn't seem to bother NATO a bit considering it finances Qayum-owned media outlets which, incidentally, never seem to report anything negative about the Karzai regime...."[16]

According to investigate research, and an editorial in the Washington Times (21 May 2012) entitled "Afghanistan’s corruption breeds failure: Successful withdrawal requires tougher action against official thievery," by Malou Innocent and Danny Marku: "But Qayum Karzai is not the only Karzai involved in such strong-arm tactics against his business rivals. Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, the late Ahmed Wali Karzai, once consolidated his power by acting as both the powerful chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council and by relying on a mafialike network of militias that made millions of dollars by bribing security companies that benefited from contracts escorting NATO convoys."[17]

Sibel Edmonds has also researched and written about controversies surrounding Qayum Karzai's, Ahmed Wali Karzai's and Mahmoud Karzai's various business dealings in Afghanistan. The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition has also raised concerns.


  1. ^ "Profile: Kandahar Profile". Navy Postgraduate School. January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Karzai's Brother May Run For Afghan Presidency". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 15 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Karzai's Brother May Run For Afghan Presidency". Outlook Afghanistan. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  4. ^ Higgins, Andrew and Markon, Jerry, (14 October 2010) Washington Post, "U.S. may indict Karzai's brother for tax evasion"
  5. ^ Risen, James, The New York Times, (5 October 2010)"Karzai’s Kin Use Ties to Gain Power in Afghanistan"
  6. ^ "Qayyum Karzai quits Afghan presidential race". Asharq Al-Awsat. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  7. ^ Link text
  8. ^ "Agreement on provisional arrangements in Afghanistan pending the re-establishment of permanent government institutions". United Nations. 5 December 2001. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2009.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ "Members of the afghan constitutional loya jirga". 23 December 2003. Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Qayum Karzai". Afghanistan Online. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Qayyum Karzai quits Afghan presidential race". Asharq al-Awsat. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  12. ^ Allan, David G. (20 May 2007). "36 Hours in Baltimore". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Otto, Mary (9 December 2001). "Family of Afghan leader watches from Maryland". The Seattle Times.
  14. ^ Potter, Mitch, (24 December 2010) Toronto Star (Canada) "Man fled Afghanistan out of fear of President Karzai’s brothers."
  15. ^ Potter, Mitch, (24 December 2010) Toronto Star (Canada) "Man fled Afghanistan out of fear of President Karzai’s brothers: Death threats drove businessman Naseem Pashtoon Sharifi on a 12,000-kilometre flight to safety."
  16. ^ Hughes, Michael, Salem News (,(28 April 2012), "Karzai Family Looks to Extend Boss Rule in Afghanistan: Qayum's control of the media has reduced southern Afghanistan to a de facto totalitarian state."
  17. ^ Innocent, Malou and Marku, Danny, Washington Times (21 May 2012) "Afghanistan’s corruption breeds failure: Successful withdrawal requires tougher action against official thievery"

See alsoEdit