Ex-Prez Ghani Vows to Return to Afghanistan, Supports Karzai's Meet With Taliban
"He is no longer a figure in Afghanistan," a US spokesperson said, even as Ashraf Ghani promised to return.
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is presently being sheltered by UAE on 'humanitarian grounds', on Wednesday, 18 August, said in a video message that he had no intention of remaining in exile, and that he was in talks to return to Afghanistan.
Even as Ghani announced his promise to return, on Wednesday, the US indicated that it no longer considered the former politician as a leader of the country. "He is no longer a figure in Afghanistan," Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Ghani had fled the country on Sunday, 15 August, as militant organisation Taliban had advanced to Kabul to seize Afghanistan. His escape, which was followed by the Taliban's occupation of the vacated presidential palace in Kabul, has received widespread censure.
What Did Ghani Say in the Video Message?
In a video message posted by Ghani on Facebook, the former president asserted his endorsement of the dialogue between former government officials and the Taliban.
Alluding to the Tuesday, 17 August, meeting between the former government's peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani's predecessor Hamid Karzai, and the Taliban, the exiled president said that he wanted the talks between the two parties to succeed, AFP reported.
Ghani, who had previously asserted in a statement that he had left Kabul to avoid bloodshed, reiterated the sentiment in the video message: "Do not believe whoever tells you that your president sold you out and fled for his own advantage and to save his own life... These accusations are baseless... and I strongly reject them," he was quoted as saying by AFP.
"Had I stayed there, an elected president of Afghanistan would have been hanged again right before the Afghans' own eyes," he added, possibly alluding to the hanging of former President Mohammed Najibullah by the Taliban in 1996 – the first time that the insurgents had taken over the reigns of Afghanistan.
Ghani further stated that the Taliban had entered Kabul despite an agreement that they would not do so, AFP reported.
He also defended himself against the accusations of stealing from the treasury of the country before his escape, saying that he had arrived in UAE empty-handed.
Ghani's Escape From Afghanistan
Former President Ashraf Ghani had fled Afghanistan on the evening of 15 August, ahead of the Taliban takeover of the country.
A day later, Ghani, had taken to social media to convey that he had left the country to avoid bloodshed: "The Taliban have made it to remove me; they are here to attack all Kabul and the people of Kabul. In order to avoid the bleeding flood, I thought it was best to get out."
"They (the Taliban) are now facing a new historical test; either they will protect the name and honour of Afghanistan or they will prioritise other places and networks. Many people and many Aqshar are in fear and are unreliable in the future. It is necessary for Taliban to assure all the people, nations, different sectors, sisters and women of Afghanistan to win the legitimacy and the hearts of the people," he had stated.
Media reports had originally said that the Afghan president had fled to Tajikistan. However, he was later speculated to have been in Oman after Tajikistan had denied him landing.
Subsequently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday had confirmed that it had welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family, owing to “humanitarian grounds”.
(With inputs from AFP)
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