Who is Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani?

Mr Ghani left the country on Sunday and landed in the UAE on Wednesday with his family

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Ashraf Ghani's future as president is in the balance after the Taliban seized the capital on August 15, forcing him to leave Afghanistan.

Mr Ghani left Kabul for neighbouring Tajikistan and arrived in the UAE with his family three days later.

"The UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds," a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said.

The Taliban takeover came only 18 months after Mr Ghani was sworn in for a second five-year term as president.

Who is Mr Ghani?

Born in 1949 into an affluent Afghan family, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spent his childhood in the province of Logar and completed high school in Kabul.

As the son of a politician, Mr Ghani was immersed in political life from early on.

He went to Lebanon to study at the American University of Beirut, where he met his wife, Rula, and graduated in 1973.

A year later, he went back to Afghanistan where he taught Afghan studies and anthropology at Kabul University.

Mr Ghani then won a scholarship to New York's Columbia University for his postgraduate studies in 1977.

He was stranded in the US after pro-Soviet forces came to power in Afghanistan, imprisoning many of Mr Ghani's family members.

Mr Ghani completed his PhD at Columbia University and was invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, specialising in Afghan politics.

He also became a commentator on Pashto and English media outlets, such as the BBC.

In 1991, he joined the World Bank as lead anthropologist. During 11 years at the bank, his work took him to China, India and Russia to manage large-scale development projects.

He returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban's defeat in 2001 and first served as special adviser to the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, working on a road map for a transitional government.

He also served as chief adviser to interim president Hamid Karzai before taking on the role of finance minister during the transitional period.

During his short time in the post, Mr Ghani issued a new currency, digitised the treasury department's operations, reformed the tariff system, fought corruption and made other significant contributions which ultimately benefited the Afghan public.

He took a tough stance against corruption within military ranks and "ghost soldiers" by refusing to pay the army until a credible roster of soldiers was provided.

He was named Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets magazine and was given Afghanistan's highest civilian award, the Sayed Jamal-ud-Din medal.

In 2004, he presented a seven-year investment plan at an international conference in Berlin which garnered the $8.2 billion needed for the first three years of the government programme.

Mr Ghani also worked with the Ministry of Communication on telecom licensing which gave rise to the number of mobile phones being used in the country from only 100 in 2002 to more than 1 million by the end of 2003.

After Mr Karzai's election in 2004, Mr Ghani declined to join the Cabinet and instead worked as Chancellor of Kabul University.

He went on to found the Institute for State Effectiveness which focused on enabling states to build more efficient systems of government. He co-authored a book called Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World.

Mr Ghani lost in the 2009 presidential elections and went on to serve as chairman of the Transition Co-ordination Commission for the transfer of power from Nato troops to Afghan Security Forces.

He won the 2014 presidential election after defeating Abdullah Abdullah in a run-off and took office on September 29 that year.

Updated: August 19th 2021, 2:23 PM
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