Zalmay Khalilzad


Afghanistan born American diplomat. A previously obscure person, Zalmay, became the centre of attention to America's neo-conservatives as the US most indispensable diplomat, following 9/11. He was in Kabul just after the fall of the Taliban and in Baghdad days after the first US troops reached the Iraqi capital. It is easy to see why Zalmay is essential to the American because he combines the commitment of a Washington neo-conservative with the cultural sensitivity of his foreign roots especially in the region of his manoeuvre. Though his background gives him a familiarity with the Arab negotiating style yet he is facing all the messy consequences. He was appointed American ambassador, in 2003, to Kabul where he helped to stitch together an interim government under Hamid Karzai, and turned himself into the new Afghan president's indispensable prop and adviser. Zalmay was transferred to Baghdad (2005 - 2007) though as an ambassador but more as a viceroy with thousands of staff and backed by the US troops. There he oversaw the drafting of a constitution, the participation of all Iraqis in a second round of elections and the formation of a national-unity government led by Nuri al-Maliki. Later he became US ambassador to the United Nation and is now a counsellor at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. He published his own memoir, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House. My journey Through a Turbulent World. Zalmay Khalilzad was born in Mazar-I-Shariff, Afghanistan, son of a middle-ranking civil servant. Young Zalmay won an exchange scholarship to California for a year at the age of 15. He became an American citizen in 1984.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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