A lot has been said about former Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani’s overnight exodus from Kabul after a belligerent Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace last month. While some reports, including the Taliban, claimed that he had “fled with $169 million”, others called him a coward for abandoning lakhs of bereaved Afghans at the mercy of the hardline Taliban.
Ghani, who fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in a video message on August 18 claimed that he was forced to leave Afghanistan with only one set of traditional attire, a vest and the sandals he was wearing.
However, nearly a month later, he has come out once again justifying his exit and explaining the reasons why he had to leave the way he did and how “difficult” it was for him to step away from his country.
“Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens… Throughout my life, I have firmly believed that the formula of a democratic republic was the only way forward for a sovereign, peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan,” Ghani said.
Read the full statement of Ashraf Ghani here:
I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly on August 15th after Taliban unexpectedly entered the city. I left at the urging of the palace security who advised me that to remain risked setting off the same horrific street-to-street fighting the city had suffered during the Civil War of the 1990s. Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens. I have devoted 20 years of my life to helping the Afghan people work toward building a democratic, prosperous, and sovereign state – it was never my intent to abandon the people or that vision.
Now is not the moment for a long assessment of the events leading up to my departure – I will address them in detail in the near future. But I must now address baseless allegations that as I left Kabul I took with me millions of dollars belonging to the Afghan people. These charges are completely and categorically false. Corruption is a plague that has crippled our country for decades and fighting corruption has been a central focus of my efforts as president. I inherited a monster that could not easily or quickly be defeated.
My wife and I have been scrupulous in our personal finances. I have publicly declared all of my assets. My wife’s family inheritance has also been disclosed and remains listed in her home country of Lebanon. I welcome an official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of my statements here. My close aides are ready to submit their finances to public audit, and I would encourage and urge other former senior officials and political figures to do the same.
Throughout my life, I have firmly believed that the formula of a democratic republic was the only way forward for a sovereign, peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan. Throughout my service to my country, the boundaries of my actions have always been defined and guided by the 2004 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It provides the platforms for dialogue where our differences can be managed through give and take and persuasion, and where the acceptance of a common vision for the future can be defined and embraced. Our Afghan tradition of Jirga and Shura is deeply egalitarian and participatory and can provide a platform for peaceful outcomes for the country moving forward.
I offer my profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifice of all Afghans, especially our Afghan soldiers and their families, through the last forty years. It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors -without ensuring stability and prosperity. I apologize to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently. My commitment to the Afghan people has never wavered and will guide me for the rest of my life.