The former US special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad called corruption in the Afghan elites a cause behind the failure of political transformation in the country and claimed that the US was successful in transforming education and infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad accused the elites of being selfish and corrupt and said that the country lost the “golden” opportunity, reported TOLOnews citing an interview to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“We did not transform the politics to have an enlightened national interest focused on elites serving their people. They became very selfish, self-centred, corrupt and failed in that mission,” TOLOnews quoted Khalilzad as saying.

Khalilzad further said that the Afghan society saw a transformation in terms of education and dismantling terrorism and claimed that the US was successful in doing so.

“The elites that we worked with, they didn’t rise to the occasion, this golden opportunity, that the American engagement provided. The state and nation-building, institution-building that we supported massively did not succeed in the way we succeeded in terms of dismantling terrorism, in transforming Afghan society and in terms of education,” the news channel quoted the former envoy as saying.

Khalilzad added that the Biden administration was led to pessimism about a political settlement in Afghanistan because of President Ashraf Ghani’s insistence on staying in power which ultimately did not allow the US to have a condition-based withdrawal instead of time-based withdrawal, according to TOLOnews.

“We were all surprised by the intransigence, frankly, of President Ghani insisting on staying in power until his term ended despite the fact that he had been reelected in a fraudulent election that very few Afghans participated in,” TOLOnews quoted Khalilzad as saying.

Khalilzad further attributed the reason behind people’s disbelief in the system and the soldiers’ lack of will to risk their lives, to the corruption among the Afghan elites.

“The performance of Afghan security forces, I think, was another surprise. I think very few people would have anticipated that this force of 300,000 facing a force of 60,000 to 70,000, with all the equipment and having American military support, disintegrated and did not fight,” he added. (ANI)