“He Has Betrayed His Motherland” – Taliban Demands Arrest & Return Of Former Afghan President

After fleeing Afghanistan with millions of dollars in plunder to try and seek safety in Tajikistan, it looks like the notoriously corrupt former Afghan president might be sent home to face what will likely be a brutal punishment from the Taliban. According to Afghan television news station TOLO News, the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan has asked Interpol to arrest Ghani and send him back to Afghanistan to face charges of “stealing public wealth”.

But according to a recent report from Bloomberg, Ghani’s whereabouts are now a “mystery”. After being denounced by his central bank chief, Ghani’s public image has transformed from transnational bureaucrat and academic to “villain in hiding”.

After returning to Afghanistan for the first time in 25 years to serve in the government of his predecessor, Hamid Karzai. After becoming a darling of the World Bank-IMF-led establishment and a long-shot candidate for head of the UN, Ghani instead was elected president of Afghanistan in 2014. His reign was fraught from the start, as then-Secretary of State John Kerry quickly elevated one of his top political rivals. President Trump’s Administration later cut him out in favor of direct talks with the Taliban.

Now, after initially promising not to flee, Ghani has fled, and his former countrymen are demanding he be returned to face justice in Afghanistan.

Former president Karzai and other Afghan politicians are now leading talks with the Taliban in Doha on setting up a new government, and Bloomberg says “disdain for Ghani” is one of the few areas where they’re likely to agree.

“Ashraf Ghani has betrayed his own motherland, team and tribe,” Abdul Haq Hamad, a member of Taliban’s media team, told Afghanistan’s Tolo News. “Such treason will always be remembered.”

As Ghani remains in hiding, his daughter, a wealthy Brooklyn artist and academic living in a rented loft in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill, is living the hipster life in NYC, far removed from concerns about the Taliban erasing freedoms for women.

According to the NY Post, “Mariam Ghani, a 42-year-old visual artist and filmmaker, enjoys a bohemian lifestyle in her Brooklyn loft, where the contrast to harsh Taliban rule over women and girls couldn’t be more stark.”

Ghani refused to speak with a NY Post reporter, but published an Instagram post saying she was “angry and grieving and terribly afraid for family, friends & colleagues left behind in Afghanistan,” adding that she was “working feverishly to do anything I can on their behalf.”

She included links for people to write to lawmakers. Little is known about their relationship, other than that she was born in Brooklyn, and raised in suburban Maryland while her father taught at Johns Hopkins. By the time he became involved in the Afghan government, she had started her teaching career, which has included stints as a lecturer at the ultra-progressive Bennington College. An NYT article about her work described her as a “feminist, an archivist and an activist”.