KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, on Thursday accused the United States of playing a "double game" by fighting a war against Afghan insurgents rather than their backers in Pakistan, and by refusing to supply his country with the weapons it needs to fight enemies across the border. He threatened to turn to China, India and Russia for those arms.
He also accused the Western news media of trying to undermine the confidence of the Afghan people by publishing articles suggesting that a civil war and economic collapse might follow the departure of NATO troops at the end of 2014. However, he also promised, using his strongest words to date, that he would step down from the presidency and that there would be an election.
"No circumstance, no foreign propaganda or intervention and no insecurity can prevent the election from happening," Mr. Karzai said at a news conference. It was the second time in recent days that Mr. Karzai had sounded angry and resentful over the policies of his American partners, and his comments Thursday were among his most pointedly critical in recent years, Afghan analysts said, suggesting that the always rocky relationship between the countries is hitting a new low. Mr. Karzai touched on a number of similar points in an interview with the CBS program "60 Minutes" on Sunday.
"NATO and Afghanistan should fight this war where terrorism stems from," Mr. Karzai said on Thursday, alluding to the havens in Pakistan where the Taliban take refuge. "But the United States is not ready to go and fight the terrorists there. This shows a double game. They say one thing and do something else.
"If this war is against insurgency, then it is an Afghan and internal issue, then why are you here? Let us take care of it.
"But if you are here to fight terrorism, then you should go to where their safe havens are and where terrorism is financed and manufactured," he said.
He also expressed frustration about the lack of sophisticated weapons from NATO countries, saying, "Are we going to wait and do nothing, or should we buy them from Russia, China, India or other countries?"
The relationship between Afghanistan and the United States has been on a downward slide since midsummer, shortly after a conference in Tokyo at which Western countries pledged $16 billion to support Afghanistan through 2015.
Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, with whom Mr. Karzai had built a strong relationship, left for health reasons. His replacement, James Cunningham, lacks the same history with the Afghan leader. Gen. John R. Allen, the NATO commander as well as the American commander for Afghanistan, also does not have an especially close relationship with Mr. Karzai, although the two talk regularly.
In August, a tense and unpleasant dispute began between the countries over the terms for handing over Afghan prisoners at the American-run detention facility in Parwan. With most prisoners handed over, the Americans halted the remaining transfers in September after indications that the Afghans might release some of the most dangerous ones. The Afghans were furious and charged the Americans with breaking the terms of a memorandum of understanding on the handover. It took a lengthy phone call by President Obama to Mr. Karzai to get discussions back on track.
Then, eight Afghan women were killed in American-led airstrikes as they collected firewood in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan. At the same time, the frequency of insider killings of Western troops by Afghan security forces was undermining the relationship between the American and Afghan soldiers on the ground.
These developments, along with a lack of clarity about American policy after the November presidential election, appear to have enraged Mr. Karzai.
His remarks Thursday suggest that he is not sure whether he can count on the Americans, analysts said, and he is trying to leverage some commitment from the United States regarding Afghanistan's future.
"He is tremendously confused about our interests and priorities," Stephen Biddle, a professor of defense studies at George Washington University, said in a telephone interview. "Sometimes it sounds like Karzai thinks we want Afghanistan as a kind of aircraft carrier in Central Asia to use to attack our enemies in the region.
"He doesn't have a very clear picture of what we are after, so he flops around between various fairly extreme ideas of American interest, because what he has seen from us is so inconsistent."
Afghan analysts emphasized that Mr. Karzai was speaking to Afghans and trying to reassure them that he was not a tool of the Americans and Europeans, even though they still hold the country's purse strings.
"By lashing out at the West and the U.S., the president is trying to send a message to the people of Afghanistan that he is not a puppet of the West," said Khalil Roman, an analyst based in Kabul.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.