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Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (center) recieves an honorary degree from Alan Leventhal, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Aram Chobanian, President ad interm Boston University, during the school's graduation ceremony.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (center) recieves an honorary degree from Alan Leventhal, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Aram Chobanian, President ad interm Boston University, during the school's graduation ceremony. (Globe Staff Photo / David Kamerman)

Do not ignore others' pain, Karzai says at BU

Page 2 of 3 -- The New York Times reported yesterday that a May 13 cable from the US Embassy in Kabul to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that Karzai ''has been unwilling to assert strong leadership" in the effort to fight the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

On CNN, Karzai responded forcefully, saying the anti-drug campaign had decreased the poppy crop by 30 percent.

''Where the Afghan government worked, it was effective," he added. ''Where international money and creation of forces for destruction of poppies was concerned, it was ineffective and delayed and halfhearted. We have done our job. Now the international community must do its job, period."

Karzai added that he was angry about the abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan by the US military, reported in graphic detail in the New York Times last week, and said the US should cede some control of military actions in his country.

''Operations that involve going to people's homes, that involves knocking on people's doors, must stop, must not be done without the permission of the Afghan government," Karzai said.

Karzai has ties to BU that date back to 1987, when he helped the university launch a project in Peshawar, Pakistan, to teach journalism skills to Afghans fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

BU also awarded honorary degrees yesterday to former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Senator John Kerry, and Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry. At BU's medical school commencement, Kerry told the newly minted doctors to tackle health care reform: ''pound the pavement, get your hands dirty, endure real sacrifice, take on antiquated thinking, and lead the public debate."

Security at BU, overseen by the Secret Service, was tight. Graduates, who were asked to show up 2 1/2 hours before the ceremony, had to go through metal detectors; helicopters hovered overhead; three nearby dorms had been emptied of residents.

At Tufts University in Medford, graduates were in high spirits despite the chilly weather and gray skies. They tossed beach balls, waved tiny flags, and blew streams of bubbles from plastic wands.

Karamanlis, the Greek prime minister, urged the school's 2,300 graduates to dedicate their lives to fighting corruption, cruelty, and poverty.

''Some people as they grow older and find it hard to combat such evils, grow weary and become less willing to continue the struggle," he said. ''Continue fighting all those good fights that make progress possible." The youngest prime minister in modern Greek history, Karamanlis, 48, said that last summer's Olympic Games in Athens marked the start of a new era of leadership for his country. ''Everyone predicted that we would not be ready and the games were going to be a disaster, but we proved all the armchair Cassandras wrong by producing the most inspiring, the most creative, and the safest games in history," he said.   Continued...

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