JIM LEHRER: And to Margaret Warner's interview with Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan presidential candidate who dropped out on Sunday. The interview was done before word reached Kabul of the attack on the British soldiers.
MARGARET WARNER: Dr. Abdullah, thank you so much for doing this.
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: You're welcome.
MARGARET WARNER: You said today the process is completed with a final illegal act.
So, you are accepting that Hamid Karzai is the next president of Afghanistan?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I accepted that the process has completed itself. And -- but, at the same time, I stressed that that was illegal.
MARGARET WARNER: What kind of pressure were you under from some of your supporters to do something different today?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: A lot of pressure. People are very agitated. They witnessed what happened during the campaign, what happened during the elections. And, finally, an institution, which was -- which its credibility was under serious, serious questions in the eyes of the people, decides to appoint a president.
MARGARET WARNER: So, your supporters wanted what?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Our parliamentarians, those who have supported me, representatives of campaign, the people at large, they are very agitated. They are calling for actions, for protests, and so on and so forth, which I have called for restraint. I have called for responsible attitude. And I have promised them that I will continue.
MARGARET WARNER: Why wouldn't it be "responsible" -- quote, unquote -- for you to challenge this in, say, the supreme court?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Had there been independent judiciary, I would have done so.
And I will fight for those principles: separation of power between three pillars of state, independent judiciary, independent constitutional commission.
MARGARET WARNER: Why won't you join this government?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Mine right from the beginning has been a campaign for change. And, unfortunately, Mr. Karzai himself, his -- his way of dealing with these issues is -- has been, throughout, like ministries in exchange for vote, ministries in exchange for allegiances.
I haven't asked for ministries from him. Somebody else in my camp might, but I haven't. So, you need a sort of shared vision, shared commitment for principles.
MARGARET WARNER: So, you're saying that there's no shared vision at all between you and Mr. Karzai?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I think it's -- it's very difficult to find one.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, yesterday, at his press conference, President Karzai did say that he recognized that corruption had stained his administration and that he was going to try to remove that.
Are you saying you think he wants to, but the people around him wouldn't let him, or do you think that is just -- he's just feeding that to the international community because that's what he knows we want to hear?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I think he has tolerated it. He has tolerated corruption for so long. And corruption is so entrenched. I don't think that he has the political will to deal with it, or a team, or instruments. We have not made instruments available to him to deal with it.
MARGARET WARNER: So, where does this leave the international community? You said at your press conference just now that the -- without a legitimate government, the international community can't work well. President Obama faces a very short-term, I mean, an immediate decision now about sending more troops. What should he do?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: The -- the broader picture will still call for more forces. But is it a solution for the future of this country on its own? That, the answer is of course, of course obvious.
While this is needed in short term in order to reverse the situation, more troops, but, at the same time, could it serve as the sole means of a stabilization in this country, in the absence of a credible, reliable partner? This is the question.
MARGARET WARNER: But let me turn it around. Why should the American government and the American taxpayer send more troops if what you're saying is, there's a government here now for the next five years that will not deliver for its people, that will not root out corruption, and will not be a credible partner?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: Oh, I think the -- this government -- this government is now, no wonder what was the legal procedure, that's in place. And the United States has to use its leverages in order to get it right.
MARGARET WARNER: And do you think the U.S. has enough leverage to make President Karzai do what you think he doesn't have the political will to do?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I will not be able to judge it from my position. But the answer is that, without -- without pressing for reform, can -- can we all succeed in this sort of situation? The answer is no.
MARGARET WARNER: And you will be pressing for reform from the outside?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I will. I will.
MARGARET WARNER: An aide to you described this as having been a very painful and emotional time.
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: I think, certainly, it has been an exercise with all its up and downs, with all its up and downs, but with a lot of disappointments in between.
But I think the people of Afghanistan have learned something about it. They have gone through something. And I think I will have the support of the people in the pursuit of those ideals and principles.
MARGARET WARNER: Dr. Abdullah, thank you.
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: You're welcome.