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'Being President of Afghanistan Worst Job on Earth': When Ashraf Ghani Felt The Heat in 2017

‘Being President of Afghanistan Worst Job on Earth’: When Ashraf Ghani Felt The Heat in 2017

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday addressed the nation for the first time since the Taliban advanced in the country by capturing much of northern, western and southern parts and military establishments. The Taliban fighter have now inched closer to capital city Kabul as they have announced complete capture of the country within seven days.

During his speech, 72-year-old Ghani said he was putting all his focus on avoiding further instability and the remobilisation of the country’s armed forces was a “top priority”. However, the future of his Ghani’s government has now come under doubt and reports are doing rounds that he may resign soon from the post and leave Afghanistan with family.

Ghani’s address comes at a time when Kandahar the country’s second-largest city and Herat, the third-largest city have already fallen. Now the reports suggest that the Taliban fighters are on the gates of Kabul.

The lightning advance comes less than three weeks before the US is set to withdraw its last forces after nearly 20 years of war.

Who is Ashraf Ghani

Born in 19 May 1949 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a politician, academic, and economist who is currently serving as the country’s president.

After his PhD degree, he was invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. Later, Ghani had joined the World Bank in Washington in 1991.

Ghani is married to Rula Saade, a Lebanese-American. They have two children – a daughter and a son. Both were born in the United States and carry US citizenship and passports.

HIS POLITICAL CAREER

In December 2001, Ghani returned to Afghanistan and joined the then Afghan government as the chief advisor to President Hamid Karzai on 1 February 2002.

Ghani is a former US citizen who gave up his passport to run for the Afghan presidency in 2009. He had hired Democratic pundit James Carville to manage his 2009 presidential campaign. However, results placed Ghani fourth, securing roughly 3 per cent of the votes.

Again in 2014, Ghani announced his candidacy for the presidential elections. After none of the other candidates managed to win more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round of the Afghan presidential election, Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the top two vote-getters from the first round, contested in a run-off polls, which was held on June 14, 2014. The initial results showed Ghani as winner but allegations of electoral fraud emerged.

Hence, on July 12, 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced to hold an audit of Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election results and Abdullah and Ghani will accept its determination of who won, reports CNN.

After months of infighting over allegations of voting fraud, Abdullah and Ghani sign a power-sharing agreement. At a news conference on September 21, 2014, Ghani was declared the new president of Afghanistan, and his rival, Abdullah, a CEO.

On September 29, 2014, Ghani was sworn in as President, sealing Afghanistan’s first peaceful democratic transition of power.

Ghani on December 10, 2014 condemned the “inhumane actions” outlined in the released report on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques after September 11. According to CNN, Ghani had said, “All Afghan people should know that after 2014 no international forces would be allowed to put any Afghan citizen in jail, get into their homes or have prisons.”

In an interview with BBC on October 5, 2017, Ghani had said that “being president of Afghanistan is the worst job on Earth.”

Second innings

During an international conference in the capital city Kabul in 2018, Ghani had reportedly said that as part of a potential ceasefire agreement, the Afghan government is willing to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political party. Confirming to Bloomberg News on November 1 the same year, Ghani had said that he will stand for reelection in 2019 to “finish the job” of ending his country’s war.

And then on July 28, 2019, Ghani launched his reelection campaign. On September 17, a Taliban suicide bomber carried out an explosion near an election rally for Ghani, who escaped unhurt.

Again on February 18, 2020, Ghani retained the presidential post with 50.64 per cent of total eligible votes. The results were delayed by five months delayed as hundreds of thousands of votes had to undergo recounts and an auditing process due to allegations of vote fraud.

He was sworn-in as President of Afghanistan for a second five-year term on March 9, 2020. However, Abdullah claimed that the presidential election results were “fraudulent”. Hence, Ghani and Abdullah signed a power-sharing agreement on May 17 the same year, with Ghani remaining President and Abdullah leading the peace talks with the Taliban as chairman of the National Reconciliation High Council. Abdullah will also appoint members of his team to the cabinet.

Taliban close in

For the unversed, insurgent fighters have set up camp just 50 kilometres (30 miles) away, forcing the US and other countries to scramble to evacuate their citizens out of Kabul in advance of a predicted all-out attack.

Heavy combat was also reported in the area of Mazar-i-Sharif, a remote outpost in the north where warlord and former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum had collected his anti-Taliban force. Jalalabad, Gardez, and Khost, which are Pashtun-dominated and unlikely to provide any opposition today, were the only three cities of any consequence that had not yet been seized.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “deep concern” about reports of women being mistreated in areas taken by the Taliban, who established an ultra-conservative form of Islam on Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

(with inputs from CNN and Wikipedia)

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