Amid a growing number of reports that the US is increasingly unhappy with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, the Independent reports that Zalmay Khalilzad is being considered as a replacement for the job.
Zalmay Khalilzad is, like Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun and native of Afghanistan. He is currently the US ambassador to the UN. Prior to that he was US Ambassador to Iraq, US Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Special Presidential Envoy Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban. His work in the private sector includes conducting a risk analysis for a proposed Trans-Afghanistan pipeline project for the oil company Unocal. He acted as Unocal’s special liaison to the Taliban regime when the company was trying to woo the regime into agreeing to the project.
Hamid Karzai was a member of the mujahedeen during the Soviet-Afghan war and was reportedly a top contact for the CIA, which was financing, arming, and training them together with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). When the Taliban came to power, he supported them at first, but later campaigned against them. The Taliban assassinated his father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, and he has himself been the target of several assassination attempts. Karzai also reportedly worked for Unocal, although both Unocal and Karzai spokesmen have denied this.