Ex-president Ashraf Ghani says he fled Kabul to save six million people in the Afghan capital

PTI Dubai | Updated on September 09, 2021

Denies stealing millions while fleeing the country

Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled to the UAE before the Taliban seized power last month, on Wednesday apologised to the people for leaving the country abruptly, saying he believed it was the “only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her six million people.”

Ghani, who has been criticised for leaving Afghans to an uncertain fate under the Taliban, also denied reports that he left Kabul with millions of dollars in cash from the treasury.

“I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly on August 15 after Taliban unexpectedly enter 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,” Ghani said in a statement that he shared on Twitter.

“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,” the 72-year-old former president said a day after the Taliban unveiled an interim government to run the war-torn country.

Interim government

The interim cabinet is led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who is on a UN blacklist. Another figure, Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the dreaded Haqqani Network, is wanted by the FBI.

Ghani left Afghanistan as the Taliban advanced on the capital city Kabul on August 15. Three days later, the UAE’s foreign ministry said the country had welcomed Ghani and his family on humanitarian grounds.

Reiterating that his commitment to the Afghan people has never wavered and will guide him for the rest of his life, Ghani apologised that he “could not make it end differently”.

Ghani, who was President of Afghanistan between September 2014 and August 2021 and backed by the West, said that he has devoted 20 years of his 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,” he said.

Ghani denied stealing millions from the treasury while fleeing the country.

“My wife and I have been scrupulous in our personal finances. I have publicly declared all of my assets,” he said, adding that he welcomes an official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of his statements.

“I offer my profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifice of all Afghans, especially our Afghan soldiers and their families, through the last 40 years. It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors - without ensuring stability and prosperity,” he concluded.

US denies involvement

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said America did not help Ghani to flee Afghanistan.

Blinken told Afghanistan’s TOLOnews that the US did not help the former president to leave the country.

Also see: US not in a rush to recognize Taliban govt: White House

“No, I was on the phone with President Ghani the night before he fled the country. In our conversation we were talking about work that was being done in Doha, on the transfer of power, and in the absence of that succeeding, what he told me in the conversation the night before he fled is that he was prepared to fight to the death and in less than 24 hours he left Afghanistan.

“So, no I certainly didn’t know about it. And we certainly we did nothing to facilitate it,” Blinken was quoted as saying by the Afghan news outlet.

Asked about the allegation that Ghani took millions of dollars in cash with him, the top US diplomat said, “That I don’t know. What I do know, is that he left the country and again in very short period of time the security forces and its institutions collapsed and so did the government.”

Published on September 09, 2021

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