Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, who escaped from the country in August as the Taliban took control of Kabul and has faced intense criticism for leaving the war-torn nation, apologized on Wednesday (Sept. 8) to the Afghan people that he “could not make it end differently.”
Ghani said in a statement on Twitter that he left the capital at the advice of his security guards to avoid the risk of bloody street fighting.
“I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly on August 15th after [the] 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”, the statement says.
“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” he added.
The former president also denied allegations that he took large amounts of money as he escaped from Afghanistan, calling for an official audit of financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate body to prove his innocence.
Statement 8 September 2021 pic.twitter.com/5yKXWIdLfM
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) September 8, 2021
Media reports claimed he had left Kabul “with four cars and a helicopter full of cash” and was spotted “everywhere from Tajikistan to Oman to Abu Dhabi.” During his escape, the Afghanistan embassy in Tajikistan asked Interpol to apprehend him for embezzling public funds.
Ghani ended the statement by saying that his commitment to the Afghan people “has never wavered”.
The Afghan politician and Fulbright Scholar with a doctorate from Columbia University, left the presidential palace in Kabul sometime around August 15, when the Taliban were at the gates of capital, waiting to lay siege on the city.
His whereabouts were unknown till August 18, when the United Arab Emirates released an official statement to announce that it was hosting Ghani, 72, and his family on “humanitarian grounds.”
His escape irked the people of Afghanistan, including his cabinet colleagues, many of whom called it “treason”.
Since then, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans have fled and 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport during the frenetic U.S. military evacuation.
The 72-year-old economist served as President of Afghanistan between September 2014 and August 2021.
Born in Logar Province, Ghani went to the United States in the 1960s to study and later completed a bachelor’s at the American University in Beirut. He became a professor of anthropology at numerous institutions, mostly at Johns Hopkins University, before starting to work with the World Bank. He returned to Afghanistan in 2002.
With reporting by Sputnik News, Hindustan Times, Reuters