Afghanistan: Ian Birrell says ‘foreign aid is corrosive’
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The former Afghan President also claimed that leaving Kabul was “the most difficult decision of my life.” As the
closed in on the country’s capital, Mr Ghani fled the city in a helicopter. At the time, Mohammad Zahir, the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, alleged that the ex-President had taken US$169 million with him in cash.
A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Kabul later appeared to corroborate the allegation.
“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit,” he said.
“And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac.”
From his Doha exile, the 72-year-old Mr Ghani strenuously denied the charges, calling them “baseless”.
Ashraf Ghani and Joe Biden
In a statement, he wrote: “These charges are completely and categorically false.
“Corruption is a plague that has crippled our country for decades and fighting corruption has been a central focus of my efforts as president.
“My wife and I have been scrupulous in our personal finances. I have publicly declared all of my assets.
“My wife’s family inheritance has also been disclosed and remains listed in her home country of Lebanon.
“I welcome an official audit or financial investigation under UN auspices or any other appropriate independent body to prove the veracity of my statements here.”
Mr Ghani’s hasty and unseemly departure from Kabul was heavily criticised and was accused of abandoning Afghans in their hour of need.
“The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation,” said Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council.
“God should hold him accountable.”
The former President defended his actions, saying he did so to prevent needless bloodshed.
“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,” he explained.
“Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life, but I believe it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and her 6 million citizens.”