Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US Special Envoy For Afghanistan, Though Belated, Is The Right Decision

Doctor Zalmay Khalilzad has been tipped as the United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan by the Turmp administration. Dr. Khalilzad has been involved in US policymaking both in Pentagon and in State Department since 1980. He has served as the most senior US official in the Bush administration. President George W. Bush asked Dr. Khalilzad to serve as Counselor to the then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld in May 2001. He remained on this post for a short span until Condoleeza Rice, the then National Security Advisor, assigned him as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southwest Asia, Nearfz East, and North African Affairs at the National Security Council. Dr. Khalilzad continued to climb the ladder of ranks until it culminated to his assigned as US Ambassador to Afghanistan (2003 –2005), which followed his assignment as ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations during the administration of George W. Bush. Dr. Khalilzad is seen as most pragmatic diplomat and a strategist who formulated strategies and successfully implemented those strategies in the field to shape desired results. He had been granted US$ 1 billion by US Congress to be at his prerogative during his stint as US Ambassador to Afghanistan. This gave him necessary means to carry out reconstruction and development programs in Afghanistan. In most of his diplomatic career since 1980s, Dr. Khalilzad has been mostly involved with Afghanistan. During the then USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, Dr. Khalilzad worked with Afghan resistant groups in Pakistan and had endeavored to set these groups free of the claws of Pakistan military and ISI by proposing to establish non-resident US Embassy for Afghanistan in Peshawar in order to avoid siphoning of resources to ISI and Pakistan military and to give free space to Afghan politicians and armed resistant groups to design a viable future for Afghanistan. This was not allowed by Pakistan hence all Afghan resistant groups continued to operate under ISI and Pakistan military, which provided ample opportunity for ISI to give direction to the resistance and cause immense destruction of Afghanistan by planting seeds of religious and sectarian hatred in Afghan resistant groups right from the start! Dr. Khalilzad had to depart Pakistan due to strong opposition by Pakistan military, and continued working in Pentagon in the US.        
Reaction to this news, which broke last week, has been tremendous and positive across the country. At a time when Afghan Government and its leaders are falling apart due to a number of factors including their inability to match existing challenges to the Afghan State, which include factionalism, political maneuvering, entrenched insurgency, disarray in the ranks of various sensitive Government institutions and lack of sense of responsibility towards the Afghan State and the people of Afghanistan by those sitting in the most senior leadership position in the Government, and mismanagement of ongoing peace negotiation with Taliban insurgents by Government – to mention a few. ‘Differences’ with, and departure of the most senior figure in the security apparatus of the Government, Mr. Hanif Atmar – National Security Advisor, seems to reveals tip of the iceberg of the extent of insidious problems simmering at leadership level in the Government. In the meantime, advances made by insurgents in diplomatic, political and improved organizational levels during last two years are clear indications that Taliban insurgents are the main benefactor of this disarray in the ranks of, and pathetic situation of Afghan Government. The so called peace process initiated by Afghan Government in February this year has become Pandora’s Box! The process that should have involved Afghan Government at all stages of its life span, has allowed for numerous actors including Russia, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and China – to mention a few – and each of these countries have established separate lines of communication and diplomatic relations with the insurgents – all based on their own competing national interests – which further complicated and slipped this whole so called peace process off the Afghan Government hands. Equally culpable are Afghan Government partners in development and security including United States of America, NATO and its member countries who have big stakes in stabilizing the country, in allowing for present disarray and hotchpotch across political, social, economic and diplomatic spheres in the country. And worst of all, there are no signs of Afghan Government to take remedial steps and bend on fixing these debilitating policy related flaws.
In the face of all these issues, people of Afghanistan take it as a good omen for the arrival of Dr. Khalilzad as the US Special Envoy in the country who can use his four decades of experience in Afghan politics, regional involvement and the huge leverage he enjoys at international level to formulate and implement a viable, effective and pragmatic strategy to bring long due calm to this country.