Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Why did Ghani choose to escape?

Leaders hold a remarkable profile in making of their state’s history in international relations, though theories in International relations have placed the domain of state affairs in terms of system, state and society. Theories have been failed to elaborate the emotional and rational aspects of individual human nature. Notions like the balance of power have given leaders manoeuvring place and more authority in the terms of the state’s foreign policy-making and their agendas.

However, with the prevailing ambiguous situation in the post-cold war era and uncertain world politics, the individual aspect of leaders have gained some credence in international relations. Amid the changing situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s unexpected takeover, ex-President Ashraf Ghani left rather than staying and confronting the evolving situation. In order to understand the President’s decision, the article covers the personality analysis of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Theoretical Framework

The individual level of analysis of international relations theories explains the leader’s role in making decisions. The individual level explores the individual’s specific approach in IR, based on the proposition that calls the actions and policy-making being influenced by the leadership of the country. Various perceptions exist that analyzes the individual level of analysis, starting from the cogent actor viewpoints focused on the concept of individual rationality in the realist and power politics paradigm to the cognitive attitude concentrating leaders personality, background, motives and beliefs significance explained by political psychologists. The individual level of analysis deals with some aspects of leaders’ personalities, however, still it lacks literature that ho the background of leader influence the decision making process or choices they make.

Another aspect that plays a role in the decision making of leadership is the way the leader perceives and interprets. They formulate strategies, execute the plan, construct expectations and perform actions on their government that suits them and are likely to help them remain in their positions. Leaders’ interpretations grow out of their objectives, experiences, beliefs, background and sensitivity to the political milieu.

Ghani’s Background

Born into an influential family in 1949, and he got his early education in Kabul. Grown up in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani was compelled to move abroad because of the foreign invasion and civil war. After getting his higher education from American University in Beirut and Columbia University, he served as a leading scholar of Political Science and anthropology at the University of California and then Johns Hopkins University. After that he served at the World Bank for almost 10 years. His career took a noticeable change when he returned to Afghanistan in 2001 amid ousting of the Taliban. He served as a special advisor to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Secretary General special envoy to Afghanistan. He assisted the UN in the successful implementation of the Bonn agreement and, on a Pro Bono basis, dr. Ghani worked as the Chief Advisor to interim president Hamid Karzai. He also added to formulate the Loya Jirga that further elected President Karzai and adopted the constitution.

President Ghani also served as a Finance Minister in Afghanistan. His remarkable services include some widely credited reforms of the time. These include the issuance of new currency in record time, computerising the data and operations of the Finance Ministry, centralised revenue, ameliorating the tariff system and customs and assured regular reporting to the cabinet and national stakeholders to assert transparency and accountability. For all these measures and many others, he was rewarded with the Syed Jamaluddin Afghani medal, the highest civilian award of Afghanistan. The emerging markets also recognized Ghani as the Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003.

In 2004, Ghani devised 7 Year program of public investment ‘securing Afghanistan’s future’ presented in an international conference in Berlin which was attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers. The donors agreed to the assistance of $27.5 billion for this 7 years package. In the establishment of a government in October 2004 in Afghanistan, Ghani refused to join the cabinet and ask for the position of a chancellor of the Kabul University. He also found the institute for state effectiveness to hack the government and other institutions in the country belt effective system of government and enhance accountability. He also co-authored a book ‘Fixing failed states’ as a chairman of the institute. Ghani contested in presidential elections in 2014 and was declared the winner on September 22, 2014, with 55.27% of total votes.

Ashraf Ghani as President

With such a vibrant career, Ghani got tremendous applause and appreciation in Afghanistan. However, as a President, he faced backlash inside and out of the country. The ex-President always blamed Pakistan for having relations with militant groups and not cooperating for peace in Afghanistan rather than making efforts to stabilize his state. Although Pakistan is the immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, he was always tilted towards India. He has also faced criticism for not showing flexibility and remaining strict and stubborn in peace talks with the Taliban.

With an unexpected takeover of the country by the Taliban and US pullout, Ashraf Ghani preferred to escape rather than stay in the country and try to establish an inclusive government with the Taliban. He absconded from Kabul the same day the Taliban entered the capital. He has been accused of taking $169 million with him, but he denied it in a video he posted on Facebook. He further stated that he left to prevent bloodshed in the country. In his next message to the Afghan people, he apologized for being unable to end the event differently. Why Ghani escaped the arduous situation and fled to UAE is still a question.


Ghani has faced intense criticism for his decision by Afghan Politicians and other head of the states which compelled him to address his escape. However, one possible reason for his escape might be his background which was a lavish lifestyle. Erstwhile he doesn’t belonged to any tribe which are normally known to be combatants, so possibly he didn’t had the courage to fight back rather preferred to live a luxurious life in a rich Arab state. For what ever reason he left his country, he will surely be questioned by Afghans if ever he decide to got back to Afghanistan or to take part in politics.

Author: Asma Hussain

The author Asma Hussain is M.Phil scholar at Peace and Conflict Studies Deprtment, National Defense University, Islamabad and can be reached at

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