Deposed Afghan president Ghani says in BBC interview that he had no alternative to secretly fleeing Kabul as Taliban closed in

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ISLAMABAD (AP) – Afghanistan’s former president said he had no choice but to leave Kabul abruptly as the Taliban shut down and refused a deal, conflicting accounts of former Afghan and US officials. Working for a peaceful takeover.

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Former President Ashraf Ghani said in a BBC interview broadcast on Thursday that an adviser gave him only a few minutes to decide whether to leave the capital, Kabul. He also denied widespread allegations that he left Afghanistan with millions of stolen money.

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Ghani’s sudden and secret departure on August 15 left the city without a helm as US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years.

“On the morning of that day, I didn’t know I would be leaving until noon,” Ghani told BBC radio.

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,After summoning the government’s defense minister, interior minister and police chief and finding out they had all fled the capital, former President Hamid Karzai said he invited the Taliban to “protect the population” from descending into chaos in Kabul. .,

His remarks conflicted with other accounts.

Former President Hamid Karzai told the Associated Press in an interview earlier this month that Ghani’s departure ended the opportunity for government negotiators, including himself and peace-council chairman Abdullah Abdullah, to hold talks with the Taliban for the 11th hour. To reach an agreement of, which was committed to stay. outside the capital.

From the archives (August 2021): Biden: Fall of Afghanistan’s government shows US withdrawal ‘was the right decision’

After summoning the government’s defense minister, Bismillah Khan, the interior minister and the police chief, and finding out everyone had fled the capital, Karzai said he invited the Taliban to Kabul “to protect the population so that the country, the city in chaos.” Do not fall and unwanted elements who will probably loot the country, will loot the shops.

From the archives (September 2021): Lessons to be learned from Afghanistan’s debacle

But Ghani said in his radio interview with British General Sir Nick Carter that he fled “to prevent the destruction of Kabul”, claiming that two Taliban factions were influencing the city and trying to enter and wage war. Were ready for a bitter fight for control. There was no evidence on Taliban entry of rival factions mentioned by Ghani.

The rebels, who swept through much of the country in the days before being pushed into Kabul as Afghan government forces melted away or surrendered, quickly took control of the palace. According to humanitarian aid workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they wanted to speak privately and were present at the time, the Taliban moved to defend their compound.

Nevertheless, the takeover of the Taliban was met with widespread fear and a deep longing by many to flee their impoverished homeland, despite the billions of international funding in the 20 years US-backed governments were in power.

In a BBC interview, Ghani denied widespread allegations that he left Afghanistan with a cache of stolen money. John Sopko, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, has been tasked with investigating those allegations.

Additional Credits (September 2021): Why Americans will pay the price for decades of war in Afghanistan

From the archives (September 2021): Trump aides seek to build public opposition to resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US

,Ghani did not address the rapid collapse of the Afghan military in the weeks leading up to the Taliban takeover, but he blamed the Trump administration for a deal, represented by then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with the Taliban in 2020. The final fall of his government.,

Successive Afghan governments, as well as independent foreign and Afghan contractors, have been accused of widespread corruption, with dozens of reports by Sopco documenting the most serious incidents. Since the 2001 coup by the Taliban, Washington has spent $146 billion on reconstruction in Afghanistan, which sheltered al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden. Yet even before the rebels returned in August, the poverty level in Afghanistan was 54%.

Top UN official said, ‘Afghan economic collapse is happening before our eyes’

Earlier this week, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an investigative reporting organization with 150 journalists in more than 30 countries, listed Ghani among the most corrupt leaders in the world. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenka was declared the most corrupt, Ghani, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz were among the finalists for the title of most corrupt.

‘The data we’re seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction’: Biden raises alarm as he convenes global summit of democracies

After being told by his national security adviser Hamdulla Mohib that his personal security force was not capable of defending him, Ghani said he decided to leave. Mohib, who was “really horrified,” gave him just two minutes to decide whether to leave, Ghani said, insisting he wasn’t sure when he was getting ready to take off from the helicopter. Even then, where will he be taken?

Ghani did not address the rapid collapse of the Afghan military in the weeks leading up to the Taliban takeover, but he blamed the Trump administration for a deal, represented by then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with the Taliban in 2020. The final fall of his government.

That agreement set the conditions for the eventual withdrawal of remaining American and NATO forces, ending America’s longest war. It also provided for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which Ghani, who initially resisted US pressure to fulfill that commitment, said strengthened the rebel force.

Read (July 2020): Pompeo defends Trump administration’s response to intelligence assessments about Russian bounty on American people in Afghanistan

Also (September 2019): The canceled Taliban meeting at Camp David on the eve of September 11 is the latest of Trump’s high-risk moves that have failed to pay off


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