Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is an Afghan Politician, Academic, and Economist who served as the president of Afghanistan from September 2014 until August 2021, when his government was overthrown by the Taliban.
|Full Name||Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai|
|Date of Birth||19 May 1949|
|Occupation||5th President of Afghanistan, Afghan Politician, Academic, and Economist|
|Net Worth||$5 million|
Early life and Education of Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani was born on 19 May 1949 in the Logar Province in the Kingdom of Afghanistan to Shah Pesand, a clerk worker, and Kawbaba Lodin, who hailed from Kandahar. He belongs to the Ahmadzai Pashtun tribe.
As a foreign exchange student, Ghani attended Lake Oswego High School (LOHS) in Lake Oswego, Oregon for the 1966–1967 school year, under the name Ashraf Ahmad, and Ashraf Ahmad Zai. The American Field Service sponsored his foreign exchange stay. He served on the student council.
Other than his exchange year, his secondary-level schooling was done in Kabul. He initially wanted to study law but then changed his major to cultural anthropology. Ghani attended the American University of Beirut, from which he received his bachelor’s degree in 1973, and after that, he won a government scholarship to attend Columbia University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1977. He only intended to be away for two years. However, after pro-Soviet forces came to power, most of the male members of his family were imprisoned, and Ghani stayed at Columbia, earning a PhD degree in 1983. He met his future wife, Rula, while studying there. His doctoral thesis was titled ‘Production and domination: Afghanistan, 1747-1901’. His thesis advisors included Conrad M. Arensberg, Richard Bulliet, Morton Fried, and Robert F. Murphy.
Career Path of Ashraf Ghani
Ghani is an independent politician and ideologically liberal, who came in fourth in the 2009 presidential election. Ghani ran in the 2014 presidential election securing fewer votes than rival Abdullah Abdullah in the first round but winning a majority in the second round. Following political chaos, the United States intervened to form a unity government with Ghani as president and Abdullah as chief executive of Afghanistan. Ghani was re-elected when the final results of the 2019 presidential elections were announced after a long delay on 18 February 2020. He was sworn in as president for a second five-year term on 9 March 2020. His tenure ended abruptly on 15 August 2021 as the Taliban took over Kabul, leading to Ghani and staff evacuating from Afghanistan and eventually taking refuge in the United Arab Emirates. He said he was forced by his security team to leave the country because there was a chance that the Taliban would assassinate him, adding that he had no other choice in order to avoid widespread violence in Kabul.
As president, Ghani was a visionary known for his intensity and energetic speeches. He aimed to transform Afghanistan into a technocratic state, winning him support among young and mostly urban men and women, leading to a young generation of educated figures taking up leading positions in cabinets. Ghani made extensive efforts to make peace with Taliban insurgents and improving relations with Pakistan. However, many of his promises, such as fighting corruption and turning the country into a trade hub between central and south Asia, were left unfulfilled. His position was also weakened by political rivalries, his attempt to lessen the power of ex-warlords, and an uneasy relationship with the United States regarding the war. He was also criticized for being aloof and short-tempered, including being in denial during the Taliban’s offensive in 2021.
Following his bachelor’s degree, Ghani served on the faculty of Kabul University (1973–77) and Aarhus University in Denmark (1977). Following his PhD degree, he was invited to teach at University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. He has also attended the Harvard-INSEAD and World Bank-Stanford Graduate School of Business’s leadership training program. His academic research was on state-building and social transformation. In 1985, he completed a year of fieldwork researching Pakistani madrassas as a Fulbright Scholar.
Ghani joined the World Bank in 1991, working on projects in East and South Asia during the mid-1990s.
Finance minister of Afghanistan
He carried out extensive reforms, including issuing a new currency, computerizing treasury operations, instituting a single treasury account, adopting a policy of balanced budgets and using budgets as the central policy instrument, centralizing revenue collection, tariff reform and overhauling customs. He instituted regular reporting to the cabinet, the public and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency and accountability and required donors to focus their interventions on three sectors, improving accountability with government counterparts and preparing a development strategy that held Afghans more accountable for their own future development. The National Solidarity Program covers 13,000 of the country’s estimated 20,000 villages.
On 28 January 2010, Ghani attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in London, pledging his support to help rebuild their country. Ghani presented his ideas to Karzai as an example of the importance of cooperation among Afghans and with the international community, supporting Karzai’s reconciliation strategy. Ghani said hearing Karzai’s second inaugural address in November 2009 and his pledges to fight corruption, promote reconciliation and replace international security forces persuaded him to help.
Marital Life of Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani is married to a Lebanese Christian lady, Rula Saade. The couple married after they met during their studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970s. They eventually settled in the United States and obtained U.S. citizenship. However, Ghani renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2009 so he could run in Afghan elections.
Ashraf and Rula Ghani have two children, a daughter, Mariam, a Brooklyn-based visual artist, and a son, Tarek, who was a national security and foreign policy advisor to 2020 presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg. Both were born in the United States and carry U.S. citizenship and passports. In an unusual move for a politician in Afghanistan, Ghani at his presidential inauguration in 2014 publicly thanked his wife, acknowledging her with an Afghan name, Bibi Gul. “I want to thank my partner, Bibi Gul, for supporting me and Afghanistan,” he said. “She has always supported Afghan women and I hope she continues to do so.”
Ashraf Ghani Net Worth
Ashraf Ghani has an estimated net worth of over $5 million from his political accomplishments, academic career and whatever else that gives him money.
Ashraf Ghani also owns 200 acres of land in Surkhab area of Logar province. Abdul Baqi Ahmadzai, who is close to Ashraf Ghani, claims that Ashraf Ghani inherited a lot of land from his father. However, Ashraf Ghani bought these 200 acres of land separately in Logar province. Ghani lost most of his stomach after suffering from cancer in the 1990s. It is said that Ghani wakes up every morning before five and reads for two to three hours. He is the older brother of Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, an Afghan politician who is the Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis. Unlike his brother, Hashmat Ghani did not flee Afghanistan. When interviewed, he said, “If I were to flee what would become of my people, my tribe. My roots are here, what kind of message would that send if I just fled and left my people in their time of need?
On 2 February 2020, Ashraf Ghani made controversial remarks while talking about Timur and Muhammad of Ghor which angered the Uzbek population of Afghanistan. He made those remarks while delivering a speech to a group of Afghan students on History, Culture, and the National Identity. Ghani stated that Muhammad of Ghor destroyed Afghanistan’s central irrigation system while Genghis Khan demolished the irrigation system of the northern provinces. Ghani also referred to Turkic conqueror Amir Timur by his Persian-origin epithet “Timur Lang” (Timur the Lame) and stated that Timur wiped-out the irrigation system for Sistan, Farah, and Helmand provinces. His remarks regarding Timur were considered offensive to Uzbeks, according to experts, and drew condemnation from Afghanistan’s Uzbek population.
Following his remarks, residents of Faryab province staged protests and demanded an apology from Ashraf Ghani. The protesters threatened that they would take serious action if Ghani did not apologize for his remarks. Abdul Rashid Dostum, former vice president of Afghanistan and an ethnic Uzbek, also demanded an apology from Ashraf Ghani. Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, spokesperson of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, said that “Ghani has a personal bias towards historic figures, honourable ethnicities, the history and culture of the people who live in Afghanistan. This is not his first time”. However, in a statement, the Afghan government palace defended Ghani’s remarks and stated that “what Ghani said about Timur was not offensive or insulting”.