WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Of the many mistakes made in Afghanistan, one of the first was to let Afghan President Hamid Karzai ensure the fate of the nation, a former official said.
Karzai is to meet Thursday with retiring U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington. A Friday meeting is scheduled with U.S. President Barack Obama, the first face-to-face meeting since a NATO summit in Chicago in May.
That meeting took place some three weeks after Obama made an unannounced trip to Kabul to sign a landmark strategic partnership agreement, intended as a road map for a new relationship after the departure of U.S. troops next year.
Since then, a series of so-called green-on-blue attacks have raised questions about the international military intervention in Afghanistan.
Former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah writes in political magazine Foreign Policy that Afghanistan arrived at this stage through a combination of tragic errors in the 11-year conflict.
"The initial mistake was to entrust President Karzai with the sacred duty of securing the fate of our embattled nation," he writes.
Abdullah challenged Karzai for the presidency in 2009. He withdrew from a runoff contest as allegations of election fraud in favor of Karzai surfaced. Elections in the country are set for 2014.
"It would be a tragic mistake for the international community to conclude that democracy doesn't work in Afghanistan, while the only thing that doesn't work is democracy as Karzai's government understands it," writes Abdullah.