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Ghani tells BBC his biggest mistake was trusting foreign partners

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Former President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday that his biggest mistake had been to trust the United States and Afghanistan’s other foreign partners.

In his first interview since fleeing the country in mid-August, the former president told BBC Radio 4 that leaving Afghanistan had not been planned and that only after takeoff in a helicopter did this course of action become clear.

Ghani has been heavily criticized and accused of abandoning the country but he defended his decision to flee.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August after taking control of Kabul – just hours after Ghani fled the country.

Ghani told BBC that when he woke up on 15 August he had “no inkling” it would be his last day in Afghanistan.

In a conversation with General Sir Nick Carter, the UK’s former Chief of the Defence Staff, who was guest-editing BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Thursday, Ghani said IEA fighters had agreed not to enter Kabul – “but two hours later, this was not the case”.

“Two different factions of the Taliban (IEA) were closing in from two different directions,” Ghani said. “And the possibility of a massive conflict between them that would destroy the city of five million and bring havoc to the people was enormous.”

He said he agreed to let his national security adviser and wife leave Kabul, but then the “terrified” chief of presidential security came to him to say that if he took a stand, “they will all be killed”.

“He did not give me more than two minutes,” Ghani said. “My instructions had been to prepare for departure for [the city of] Khost. He told me that Khost had fallen and so had Jalalabad.

“I did not know where we will go. Only when we took off, it became clear that we were leaving [Afghanistan]. So this really was sudden.”

Ghani was widely criticized for having fled the country, also by his vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who called it “disgraceful”.

Many people, who were privy to talks at the time, have said in the past few months that Ghani’s sudden secret departure on 15 August scuppered a deal to secure a more orderly transition.

Ghani, who is living in the UAE, said in conversation that he misread US politics and the situation on the ground at the time.

Allegations of him having taken vast amounts of money also emerged following his departure and just this week was he named as one of the most corrupt people in the world.

Ghani however denied this and said he would welcome an international investigation into the allegations so that he can clear his name.

“I want to categorically state, I did not take any money out of the country,” he said, adding: “My style of life is known to everyone. What would I do with money?”

He did however acknowledge that mistakes were made, including “assuming that the patience of the international community would last”.

However, he pointed to the agreement made between the IEA and the US under then-President Donald Trump, which paved the way for the events leading to 15 August.

“Instead of a peace process, we got a withdrawal process,” Ghani said. The way the deal was done “erased us”, said Ghani.

Ghani said that what happened on August 15 was “a violent coup, not a political agreement, or a political process where the people have been involved”.

The same day Ghani left Kabul, the IEA took control. Since then, the country has been thrown into a humanitarian and economic crisis, exacerbated by the removal of donor support and foreign aid as well as the freezing of over $9 billion of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

Four months later, Ghani says he is willing to take the blame for some things which led to the fall of Kabul – like trusting “in our international partnership”.

He told BBC that his “life work has been destroyed. My values had been trampled on. And I have been made a scapegoat.”

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Over 5,000 Afghan immigrants deported from Iran, Pakistan

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The Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation (MoRR) announced Saturday the expulsion of more than 5,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran.

The ministry said in a post on X that 4,881 refugees were expelled from Iran and 775 from Pakistan.

The Ministry of Refugees stated that the returnees entered the country on Thursday and Friday.

These refugees entered the country through the Torkham and Spin Boldak borders after being expelled.

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Tajikistan stands against IEA’s inclusion in SCO activities: Russia

A Tajik official, however, has said that Kabulov has incorrectly presented Tajikistan’s position in this regard.

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Tajikistan has expressed opposition to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) activities, Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said.

The issue was discussed at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Council held in Kazakhstan’s Astana on May 20-21.

“Russia and the majority of participants favoured resuming this contact group’s work. Our Tajik partners still have certain reservations, but we hope they will reconsider their stance soon,” Kabulov said referring to the SCO-Afghanistan contact group, RIA Novosti reported.

A Tajik official, however, has said that Kabulov has incorrectly presented Tajikistan’s position in this regard.

“We note Mr. Kabulov’s incorrect presentation of Tajikistan’s position on the issue of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group activities,” Ahmad Saidmurodzoda, Tajikistan’s National Coordinator for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), told Asia-Plus.

“Within the framework of the SCO, Tajikistan have consistently emphasized the need to discuss Afghanistan issues.  As far as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group activities are concerned, Tajikistan has never opposed the resumption of activities of this group; on contrary, our side draws attention to the fact that Afghanistan received the status of observer at the SCO in 2012, while protocols on the establishment of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group were signed with the authorities of this country in 2005 and 2018,” Saidmurodzoda said.      

He further noted that in this context, the Tajik side, including during the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting, had proposed “at this stage to launch an expert discussion of Afghan issues in the SCO format.” 

 

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Pakistan’s foreign minister calls for revival of SCO contact group for Afghanistan

 

SCO foreign ministers discuss promotion of stability in Afghanistan

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Iranian presidential candidate vows to prevent entry of Afghan migrants if elected

Pezeshkian added that those already residing in Iran should be regulated.

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Masoud Pezeshkian, a presidential candidate in Iran, has vowed that he will shut the borders to Afghan immigrants if elected.

Pezeshkian added that those already residing in Iran should be regulated.

“It should not be denied that a large number of Afghan brothers play an effective role in Iran’s economy or have sacrificed in the imposed war…but their presence in Iran should be regulated and disciplined,” he said.

He also said that his government would enter into negotiations with European countries to admit some refugees or pay for their presence in Iran.

“The West must shoulder responsibility for what it has done in Afghanistan and which has led to the migration of millions of Afghans,” he said. “There is no reason for the Iranian people to pay for the wrong policies of others.”

Iran’s presidential election is slated to be held on June 28.

 

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Iran tells illegal immigrants to return home as no welfare services provided

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