May 19, 2009
Ex-U.S. Envoy Considers Key Role in Afghan Government
By HELENE COOPER
WASHINGTON — Zalmay Khalilzad, who was President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, could assume a powerful, unelected position inside the Afghan government under a plan he is discussing with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, according to senior American and Afghan officials.
Mr. Khalilzad, an American citizen who was born in Afghanistan, had considered challenging Mr. Karzai for the presidency in elections scheduled for this summer.
But Mr. Khalilzad missed the May 8 filing deadline, and the American and Afghan officials say that he has been talking with Mr. Karzai for several weeks about taking on a job that the two have described as the chief executive officer of Afghanistan.
Such an alliance would benefit Mr. Karzai by co-opting a potential rival. For its part, the White House has made no secret of its growing disenchantment with Mr. Karzai, and some Afghanistan experts said that enlisting Mr. Khalilzad would have the virtue of bringing a strong, competent leader into an increasingly dysfunctional Afghan government.