Ashraf Ghani in the final list of the most corrupt people of the year
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Unit (OCCRP) has announced that the name of fugitive Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has entered the final list of the most corrupt people of the year.
The report emphasizes that he left his people and left them in misery and death.
In addition to Ashraf Ghani, it has nominated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Belarusian President Lukashenko for the annual Award for the Most Corrupt Person of the Year.
Finally, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko was chosen by this institution as the most corrupt figure of 2021.
The Story of How Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Fled the Country
By Sanjar Sohail
Note: This article is the result of a conversation between Sanjar Sohail, the publisher of 8am and one of the 53 people who fled Kabul with Ashraf Ghani on August 15. In this article, he recounts all the events that an eyewitness observed from 8 a.m. Sunday (August 15) to Monday night. Obviously, one person’s experience and testimony cannot provide enough details to all the factors and reasons for Ashraf Ghani’s escape. Just because parts of the details of this report may need to be reviewed or approved by Ashraf Ghani’s companions. However, this article reveals the unspoken details of Ghani’s escape from Afghanistan to such an extent that the eyes of an eyewitness have seen it. The source has asked for his identity to be anonymous, but what you are reading is the source’s first-person account. Sanjar Sohail has shared parts of this story with two of Ashraf Ghani’s companions to evaluate its validity, which is mentioned in the text. It should be noted that this narrative is undoubtedly not the whole story, and we are ready to publish any article by Ashraf Ghani’s companions regarding the August 15 incident, for the audience of 8am.
Sunday morning, August 15th
As usual, I left home at around 8 a.m. to go to work at the Presidential Palace (ARG). Unlike other days, Kabul seemed more secluded that day. Few people were patrolling in the streets and fewer police checkpoints in the city. However, due to first-category security warnings and preparations, the number of police forces had to be higher than usual. When I got to my office, the situation there also seemed unusual. Although a large number of employees were present at their duties, the majority of them, unlike in the past, either wore Shalwar kameez or casual clothes.
Every day, as usual, a meeting was held at 9:00 a.m., attended by Ashraf Ghani, Hamdullah Muhib, National Security Advisor, Matin Beg, Head of the presidential Office, Fazl Mahmood Fazli, Head of the Administrative Office of the President, and others. At this meeting, it was decided that cabinet members should be called immediately for an emergency meeting. The purpose of the cabinet meeting was to find a way to prevent panic, confusion, and chaos in Kabul, inviting civilians to calmness.
Employees at the Office of the President immediately invited the ministers to attend an emergency cabinet meeting. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that about 50 percent of cabinet members were either outside Kabul (some in the provinces) or living abroad. At the same time, it was reported that Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president, had gone to Panjshir two days ago and had not yet returned. Sarwar Danish, the second vice president, also attended a pre-scheduled public meeting in the west of Kabul.
While it was concluded that a cabinet meeting was not possible, Ashraf Ghani decided to go to the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, which was located near the Presidential Palace. To that end, soldiers from the President Protective Service (PPS) were deployed to the Ministry of Defense to prepare for Ashraf Ghani’s arrival. At the same time, it was reported that Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi was not present at the ministry headquarters and had gone to Kabul airport to visit the air force. Meanwhile, Army Chief of Staff Haibatullah Alizai was busy meeting with some US officials. Therefore, it was decided to postpone Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the Ministry of Defense due to the absence of the Minister of Defense and the busy schedule of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It was about noon when the employees of the citadel and some other departments left their jobs in groups and went home. At the same time, based on the famous Afghan saying “We cannot fight with the hungry stomach”, it was decided to have lunch. The problem, however, was that when we got to the kitchen, the pots of cooked food were all ready and intact on the stoves and ovens, but there was no kitchen service staff at the citadel. They had already escaped. At that moment, the sound of gunfire was heard around the citadel, causing even more panic. Some said the sound of gunfire was to disperse people who had gathered around the banks to withdraw their money.[Another of Ashraf Ghani’s companions told 8am that the shooting took place near the citadel around 11 or 11:30. This confused the staff of the citadel, and at that moment most of the staff came out of the citadel with the sound of gunfire].
Ashraf Ghani’s senior advisor on peace, Salam Rahimi, contacted Taliban representatives and Khalilzad’s colleagues in Doha, Qatar, urging them not to allow Taliban forces to enter Kabul. Rahimi, after a few minutes of conversation, returned, saying that the Taliban won’t enter Kabul. People affiliated with the presidential palace had already been informed that Taliban forces had moved toward Kabul. The Taliban side, however, said that these people may not be their forces, adding that others may use their name to enter Kabul and plunder the city. The agreement between Salam Rahimi and the Taliban and Khalilzad’s representatives was that due to the population density in Kabul, the diplomatic presence of the countries and the existence of people’s capital if any chaos occurs in Kabul, the situation will be devastating and out of control. Following the talks, the Taliban issued a statement saying their forces won’t enter Kabul.
At that moment, Matin Beg, the head of the presidential office, returned with a strong attitude, sitting down next to Hamdullah Muhib, the national security advisor. Matin Beg picked up his mobile phone and tweeted “Kabul is safe, people should not worry!” Meanwhile, one of the men was ordered to call a security spokesman and ask him to record a reassuring video message and send it to the visual media. Necessary arrangements were made for this and a spokesman for the security forces stepped in. This was while the bodyguards of the president were changing their clothes and wearing more comfortable clothes.
At that moment, they ordered us to go to the helicopters. Since some of the President’s bodyguards were still stationed at the Ministry of Defense headquarters, waiting for the President to arrive, I thought we would fly to the Ministry of Defense. We all hurried to the four waiting helicopters on the grounds of the Presidential Palace. The helicopters flew and, contrary to our expectations, not to the Defense Ministry. Instead, they flew to the north of the country.
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