KABUL (Pajhwok): Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says his international partners repeatedly pressured him and limited his authority to blame him for the chaotic situation and crisis in Afghanistan.
Ashraf Ghani in an interview with BBC has said that his only mistake as president was to trust international partners, including the US.
He said he understood the anger of Afghans and that he was being blamed for the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.
Ghani fled the country to an unknown country when the Taliban reached the gates of Kabul on August 15 this year, that led to the full takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban.
In a recent interview with Gen Sir Nick Carter, the UK’s former Chief of the Defence Staff, Ghani said that he was sacrificed to be blamed for the chaos and crisis in Afghanistan. He said his international partners were constantly pressuring him and limiting his authority.
He also said that he was ready to accept a lie detector to investigate allegations of taking money with him from Kabul while escaping.
Ghani also said that after reaching an agreement with the Taliban, the US had set a warning deadline for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which was a pressure on the government and the main reason for the August political changes. He added that peace talks with the Taliban “became an issue for the US, not for the Afghans.”
He says his main reason for leaving was to prevent the destruction of Kabul. Kabul had previously been destroyed and turned into ruins by the Mojahedin in power struggles.
The former president about his escape from Kabul said, “That morning, I never even thought that I will leave the country. We were informed that the Haqqani Group (Taliban) had promised not to enter Kabul. But two hours later, things changed. I was asked to allow my colleagues, including the National Security Council adviser, to leave the country. I also asked my wife to leave the country, she was reluctant to do so. They left an hour and a half before I left. I waited until Bismillah Khan (the former Minister of Defense) called me and said that everything was collapsing. That was the time when I wanted to go to the Department of Defense. I waited for 25 minutes, but the cars did not come. Then Dr. Moheb (HamdollahMoheb), advisor to the National Security Council and then the chairman of Presidential Protection Service entered and said that PPS no longer exists and they are unable to protect me… I did not know where we are going, when I got on to helicopter, it was cleared that we are leaving the country. It was really a sudden incident.”
“I had to sacrifice myself to save Kabul and expose myself to real circumstances. A violent coup, not a political agreement or a political process in which the people participate. Secondly, I want to emphasize that I have not taken any money out of the country. Helicopters and our first destination were clear for everyone to check. Not only do I welcome Mr. John Sopko’s investigation of these allegations. As soon as these allegations were made, I suggested that an investigation be conducted by the United Nations or another inspection body. My way of life is known to everyone. What could I do with the money? These are accusations that were made first by Russia and then published. I would be pleased to have any necessary investigation done in this regard, including the use of a lie detector,” he said in response to a question.
“Instead of achieving a peace process, we have reached a process of withdrawing US troops,” Ghani said about the US-Taliban agreement. “At the time, the Taliban were considered the deadliest terrorist organization. There were two agreements singed that day. The first was signed in Kabul. NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and US Secretary of Defense first arrived in Kabul and announced a joint agreement. However, the agreement with the Taliban was going in parallel for months.”
Ghani said that the agreement was signed by former US special envoy for Afghanistan, ZalmaiKhalilzad in the presence of Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State; while the former US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper in Kabul had said that the agreement was conditional and can be cancelled by the US if not implemented by the Taliban.
“The most important thing, which is probably one of the main reasons for the events of August, was that the agreement with us, which was negotiated for months, stated that the US would facilitate negotiations between us and Taliban if both sides (the Taliban) and the government of Afghanistan release each other’s prisoners. The number of prisoners to be released was mentioned in the agreement, they were a few hundred. But the US-Taliban agreement, the US made a unilateral commitment which was the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners until the 10th of March,” he said.
“We were not consulted about the release of the 5,000 prisoners, and in addition to that, the US unilaterally pledged to release the remaining Taliban prisoners in the next three months. A warning was also later issued that we should release (Taliban prisoners). The number was first a few hundred, then reached a thousand, and then there was a strong and complete insistence that all 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released. But the Taliban refused to negotiate with us politically and even sidelined us, they even told about their prisoners that it was a commitment from the US and the US implements it.”
“My life record was destroyed, my values were trampled and I was sacrificed,” Ghani said of recent events. The United States and our other Western allies had the choice of either changing their way of fighting terrorism or abandoning it altogether. But national autonomy is not possible for us as long as the war on terrorism is like this. “Because all our other problems are secondary to this.”
About recent developments in the country, he said, “My life work has been destroyed. My values had been trampled on. And I have been made a scapegoat. The US and our other western partners to change the method of war against terror or they ignore it and withdraw…”
According to Ghani, that is why I am focused on being able to take a fundamental step, not for personal gain, but to be able to help Afghanistan and the direction it is taking so that we can all do it again. We can belong to each other.
“People have the right to blame me, because I trusted our international partnership and followed the way…”