U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Pakistan on Wednesday to meet with new Prime Minister Imran Khan. His mission is to improve relations with Pakistan.
Pompeo’s appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as the new U.S. special adviser on Afghan reconciliation, however, might complicate matters. The U.S. also canceled a $300 million Coalition Support Fund payment to Pakistan last weekend.
Who is Khalilzad?
Khalilzad, an Afghan immigrant to the U.S., was the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban from 2001-2003. He then served as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003-2005.
“He has been very critical of Pakistan in the past, and his appointment will not help move things forward,” said Zahid Hussain, a defense analyst who has written two books on militants in the Afghan-Pakistani region.
Khalilzad has often blamed Pakistan for problems in Afghanistan. He says that Pakistan harbors Taliban insurgents.
Others blame Khalilzad himself for Afghanistan’s problems. They say that after the Taliban fell, Khalilzad put warlords, led by Hamid Karzai, in charge of the country. Critics also say that Afghan troops do not receive the training they need to be effective.
Pompeo met with Khan on Wednesday. He said he wanted to meet with the newly elected prime minister early on in his tenure “in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries.”