Zalmay Khalilzad is the highest-ranking native Afghan and Muslim in the Bush administration. He became George W. Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban as well as is special envoy to the Iraqi during the 2003 Occupation of Iraq. On September 24, 2003, George W. Bush also named Khalilzad the U.S ambassador to Afghanistan and he took his post in Kabul on November 27.
An ethnic Pashtun, he was born in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and first went to the United States as a high school exchange student. Khalilzad received his doctorate at the University of Chicago, where he studied closely with strategic thinker Albert Wohlstetter.
Khalilzad served under former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush as special assistant to the president for Southwest Asia, the Near East and North Africa. From 1985 to 1989, Khalilzad served as a senior United States Department of State official advising on the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war, and from 1991 to 1992, he was a senior Defense Department official for policy planning. He served as a counsellor to Donald Rumsfeld.
Zalmay Khalilzad was an advisor for the Unocal Corporation. In the mid 1990s, while working for the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Khalilzad conducted risk analyses for Unocal for a proposed 890-mile, $2-billion, 1.9-billion-cubic-feet-per-day natural gas pipeline project which would have extended from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.
He has served in both the State and Defense Departments and is a member of the United States National Security Council.