Ashraf Ghani

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Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani December 2014.jpg
President of Afghanistan
Incumbent
Assumed office
29 September 2014
Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum
Preceded by Hamid Karzai
Chancellor of Kabul University
In office
22 December 2004 – 21 December 2008
Preceded by Habibullah Habib
Succeeded by Hamidullah Amin
Minister of Finance
In office
2 June 2002 – 14 December 2004
President Hamid Karzai
Preceded by Hedayat Amin Arsala
Succeeded by Anwar ul-Haq Ahady
Personal details
Born Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
(1949-02-12) 12 February 1949 (age 65)
Logar, Afghanistan
Nationality Afghan
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Rula Ghani
Children 2
Alma mater American University of Beirut
Columbia University
Religion Muslim

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (Pashto: اشرف غني‎, Persian: اشرف غنی‎, born 1949) is the current President of Afghanistan, and a former anthropologist. He was elected as the President of Afghanistan on 21 September 2014. Usually referred to as Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, he previously served as Finance Minister and as the chancellor of Kabul University.

Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, President Ahmadzai, worked with the World Bank. As the Finance Minister of Afghanistan between July 2002 and December 2004, he led Afghanistan's attempted economic recovery after the collapse of the Taliban government.

He is the co-founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization set up in 2005 to improve the ability of states to serve their citizens. In 2005 he gave a TED talk, in which he discussed how to rebuild a broken state such as Afghanistan.[1] President Ahmadzai is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an independent initiative hosted by the United Nations Development Programme. In 2013 he was ranked second in an online poll to name the world's top 100 intellectuals conducted by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines,[2] ranking just behind Richard Dawkins. He previously was named in the same poll in 2010.[3]

Ahmadzai came in fourth in the 2009 presidential election, behind Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, and Ramazan Bashardost. In the first round of the 2014 presidential election, Ahmadzai won 31.5% of the vote, second to Abdullah who secured 45% of the votes cast. Both candidates went on to contest a run-off election, which was held on 14 June 2014 with Ahmadzai winning 55.27% of the votes with a lead of a million votes over Abdullah.

He is the brother of Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis.

Early years[edit]

Ahmadzai was born in 1949 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun of Ahmadzai tribe, he completed his primary and secondary education in Habibia High School in Kabul. He attended the American University in Beirut, where earned his bachelors degree in 1973 and his Master's degree in 1977. Ahmadzai met his future wife, Rula Ghani Ahmadzai while studying at the American University of Beirut. He returned to Afghanistan in 1977 to teach anthropology at Kabul University before receiving a government scholarship in 1977 to pursue his Doctorate degree in anthropology at Columbia University in the United States which he completed in 1982.

Academic career[edit]

He initially wanted to study Law at Columbia University but then changed his major to Cultural Anthropology. He applied to teach at University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. During this period he became a frequent commentator on the BBC Farsi/Persian and Pashto services, broadcast in Afghanistan. He has also attended the Harvard-INSEAD and World Bank-Stanford Graduate School of Business's leadership training program. He served on the faculty of Kabul University (1973–77), Aarhus University in Denmark (1977), University of California, Berkeley (1983), and Johns Hopkins University (1983–1991). His academic research was on state-building and social transformation. In 1985 he completed a year of fieldwork researching Pakistani Madrasas as a Fulbright Scholar.

World Bank[edit]

He joined the World Bank in 1991, working on projects in East and South Asia through the mid-1990s. In 1996, he pioneered the application of institutional and organizational analysis to macro processes of change and reform, working directly on the adjustment program of the Russian coal industry and carrying out reviews of the Bank’s country assistance strategies and structural adjustment programs globally. He spent five years each in China, India, and Russia managing large-scale development and institutional transformation projects that made what is today's economy in China. He worked intensively with the media during the first Gulf War, commenting on radio and television and in newspaper interviews.

Post-9/11[edit]

After the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, he left the World Bank and engaged in intensive interaction with the media, appearing regularly on PBS's NewsHour, BBC, CNN, US National Public Radio, and other broadcasters, and writing for major newspapers. In November 2002, he accepted an appointment as a Special Advisor to the United Nations and assisted Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, to prepare the Bonn Agreement, the process and document that provided the basis of transfer of power to the people of Afghanistan.

Return to Afghanistan[edit]

Returning after 24 years to Afghanistan in December 2001, he left his posts at the UN and World Bank to join the Afghan government as the chief advisor to President Hamid Karzai on 1 February 2002. He worked "pro bono" and was among the first officials to disclose his assets, although this information is no longer accessible. In this capacity, he worked on the preparation of the Loya Jirgas (grand assemblies) that selected Karzai and approved the Constitution of Afghanistan. After the 2004 election, Ahmadzai declined to join the cabinet and asked to be appointed as Chancellor of Kabul University. As Chancellor he instituted participatory governance among the faculty, students and staff, training both men and women with skills and commitment to lead their country.

After leaving Kabul University, Ahmadzai co-founded the Institute for State Effectiveness with Clare Lockhart, of which he is Chairman. The Institute put forward a framework proposing that the state should perform ten functions in order to serve its citizens. This framework was discussed by leaders and managers of post-conflict transitions at a meeting sponsored by the UN and World Bank in September 2005. The program proposed that double compacts between the international community, government and the population of a country could be used as a basis for organizing aid and other interventions, and that an annual sovereignty index to measure state effectiveness be compiled.

Mr. Ahmadzai was tipped as a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations at the end of 2006[4] in a front page report in The Financial Times that quoted him as saying, “I hope to win, through ideas.” Carlos Pascual of the Brookings Institute was also quoted, praising Ahmadzai's "tremendous intellect, talent and capacity." [5]

In 2005 Ahmadzai gave keynote speeches for meetings including the American Bar Association’s International Rule of Law Symposium, the Trans-Atlantic Policy Network, the annual meeting of the Norwegian Government’s development staff, CSIS’ meeting on UN reform, the UN-OECD-World Bank’s meeting on Fragile States and TEDGlobal.[6] He contributed to the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Finance Minister of Afghanistan[edit]

Ahmadzai was recognized as the best finance minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets. He carried extensive reforms, including issuing a new currency, computerizing treasury operations, instituting a single treasury account, adopting a policy of balanced budgets and using budgets as the central policy instrument, centralizing revenue collection, tariff reform and overhauling customs. He instituted regular reporting to the cabinet the public and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency and accountability, and required donors to focus their interventions on three sectors, improving accountability with government counterparts and preparing a development strategy that held Afghans more accountable for their own future development.

On 31 March 2004, he presented a seven-year program of public investment called Securing Afghanistan’s Future[7] to an international conference in Berlin attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers. Described as the most comprehensive program ever prepared and presented by a poor country to the international community, Securing Afghanistan’s Future was prepared by a team of 100 experts working under a committee chaired by Ahmadzai. The concept of a double-compact, between the donors and the government of Afghanistan on the one hand and between the government and people of Afghanistan on the other, underpinned the investment program. The donors pledged $8.2 billion at the conference for the first three years of the program—the exact amount requested by the government—and agreed that the government’s request for a total seven-year package of assistance of $27.5 billion was justified.

Poverty eradication through wealth creation and the establishment of citizens' rights is the heart of Ahmadzai’s development approach. In Afghanistan, he is credited with designing the National Solidarity Program,[8] that offers block grants to villages with priorities and implementation defined by elected village councils. The program covers 13,000 of the country's estimated 20,000 villages. He partnered with the Ministry of Communication to ensure that telecom licenses were granted on a fully transparent basis. As a result, the number of mobile phones in the country has jumped to over a million at the end of 2005. Private investment in the sector exceeded $200 million and the telecom sector emerged as one of the major providers of tax revenue.

2009 Presidential Election[edit]

Ahmadzai with Rajiv Shah and Karl W. Eikenberry

In January 2009 an article by Ahmad Majidyar of the American Enterprise Institute included Ahmadzai on a list of fifteen possible candidates in the 2009 Afghan presidential election.[9] On May 7, 2009, Ashraf Ghani registered as a candidate in the Afghan presidential election, 2009. Ghani's campaign emphasized the importance of: a representative administration; good governance; a dynamic economy and employment opportunities for the Afghan people.[10] Unlike other major candidates, Ghani asked the Afghan diaspora to support his campaign and provide financial support.[11] He appointed Mohammed Ayub Rafiqi as one of his vice president candidate deputies, and payed for the noted Clinton-campaign chief strategist James Carville as a campaign advisor.[12]

Preliminary results placed Ghani fourth in a field of 38, securing roughly 3% of the votes.[13]

Reconstruction[edit]

On 28 January 2010, Ghani attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in London, pledging his support to help rebuild their country. Ghani presented his ideas to Karzai as an example of the importance of cooperation among Afghans and with the international community, supporting Karzai's reconciliation strategy. Ghani said hearing Karzai's second inaugural address in November 2009 and his pledges to fight corruption, promote reconciliation and replace international security forces persuaded him to help.[14]

2014 Presidential Election[edit]

President Ahmadzai sitting with Abdullah Abdullah and John Kerry in July 2014

After announcing his candidacy for the 2014 elections, Ghani tapped General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a prominent Uzbek politician and former military official in Karzai's government and Sarwar Danish, an ethnic Hazara, who also served as the Justice Minister in Karzai's cabinet as his pick for vice presidential candidates. This Ghani-Dostum pairing is the most remarkable in today's race. In an article for the London Times on 20 August 2009, when Ghani received three percent of the votes in the presidential elections, he called Dostum a "killer" and lashed out against Karzai for calling Dostum back from Turkey to lend him his support.[15] Now, Ghani has invited the very same Dostum to be his closest partner in the hope that this new alliance will bring him victory. "Politics is not a love marriage, politics is a product of historic necessities," he explained to Agence France Presse a few days after he had chosen Dostum.[16] After none of the candidates managed to win more than 50% of the vote in the first round of the election, Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the two front runners from the first round contested in a run-off election, which was held on 14 June 2014.

Initial results from the run-off elections showed Ghani as the overwhelming favourite to win the elections. However, allegations of electoral fraud resulted in a stalemate, threats of violence and the formation of a parallel government by his opponent Dr. Abdullah Abdullah camp. On 7 August 2014 US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kabul to broker a deal that outlined an extensive audit of nearly 8 million votes and formation of a national unity government with a new role for a chief executive who would serve as a prime-minister. After a three month audit process, which was supervised by the United Nations with financial support from the U.S. government, the Independent Election Commission announced Ghani as the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan after Ghani agreed to a national unity deal. Initially the election commission said it would not formally announce specific results, it later released a statement that said Ghani managed to secure 55.4% and Abdullah Abdullah secured 43.5% of the vote. Although it declined to release the individual vote results.

World Justice Project[edit]

Ghani is on the Board of Directors of the World Justice Project, which works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law in developing countries.

Personal life[edit]

Ashraf Ghani is married to Rula Saade,[17] a citizen with dual Lebanese and American nationality. Rula Saade Ghani was born in a Lebanese Christian family.[18] The couple married after they met during their studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970s.[19] There is no confirmation or otherwise for her conversion to Islam to marry Ashraf Ghani. Mrs. Ghani is reportedly fluent in English, French, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

Ashraf and Rula Ghani have two children, a daughter, Mariam Ghani, a Brooklyn Based visual artist,[20] and a son, Tariq. Both were born in United States and carry US citizenship and passports. In an unusual move for a politician in Afghanistan, Mr. Ghani at his presidential inauguration in 2014 publicly thanked his wife, acknowledging her with an Afghan name, Bibi Gul.[19] "I want to thank my partner, Bibi Gul, for supporting me and Afghanistan," said Mr. Ghani, looking emotional. "She has always supported Afghan women and I hope she continues to do so."[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.ted.com/talks/ashraf_ghani_on_rebuilding_broken_states
  2. ^ http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/world-thinkers-2013/#.U5I875RdUQ4
  3. ^ "Foreign Policy's Second Annual List of the 100 Top Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Sekretarz generalny ONZ. Wybory 2006". Unic.un.org.pl. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  5. ^ "Ghani joins race to succeed Annan". ft.com. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  6. ^ TEDGlobal
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ National Solidarity Program
  9. ^ Ahmad Majidyar (January 2009). "Afghanistan's Presidential Election". American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 2009-09-18. A world-renowned economist, Ahmadzai was a key figure in the formation of the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. The chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness, he served as an adviser to the United Nations for the formation of the Bonn Agreement and as finance minister of Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004. His recent harsh criticism of Karzai’s government has prompted speculation that he may run for president. An ethnic Pashtun, Ahmadzai has not officially announced his candidacy. 
  10. ^ "Ashraf Ghani for President » Ashraf Ghani’s registration for the 2009 Presidential Elections". Ashrafghani.af. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  11. ^ "Ashraf Ghani for President". Campaigncontribution.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  12. ^ "James Carville Joins The Afghan Campaign Trail". NPR. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  13. ^ "Preliminary Result of Afghanistan Presidential Contest". Sabawoon online. 2009-08-20. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. 
  14. ^ "Ghani Pledges to Back Karzai in Rebuilding Effort "
  15. ^ "Kick Out Karzai We Deserve a Second Chance". NPR. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  16. ^ "Ex-finance minister Ghani bullish as Afghan election race begins". NPR. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  17. ^ Al Arabiya: Afghan first lady in shadow of 1920s queen?
  18. ^ Al Arabiya: Afghanistan’s next first lady, a Christian Lebanese-American?
  19. ^ a b The Daily Telegraph: Ashraf Ghani inaugurated: Is Afghanistan ready for a high-profile first lady?
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ Wall Street Journal: Ghani Sworn In as Afghan President

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hedayat Amin Arsala
Minister of Finance
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Anwar ul-Haq Ahady
Preceded by
Hamid Karzai
President of Afghanistan
2014–present
Incumbent