Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani
اشرف غني
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani December 2014 (cropped).jpg
13th President of Afghanistan
Assumed office
29 September 2014
Prime Minister Zainullah Henayati
Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum
Sarwar Danish
Preceded by Hamid Karzai
Chancellor of the 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
May 19, 1949 (age 67)
Logar, Afghanistan
Nationality Afghan
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Rula Ghani
Relations Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai (brother)
Children Mariam
Alma mater American University of Beirut
Columbia University
Religion Islam

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (Pashto/Persian: اشرف غني احمدزی‎‎, ) is the current President of Afghanistan, elected on 21 September 2014. An anthropologist by education, he previously served as finance minister and the chancellor of Kabul University.

Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, President Ghani 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. President Ghani 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 50th in an online poll to name the world’s top 100 intellectuals conducted by Foreign Policy magazine and second in a similar poll run by Prospect magazine.

Ghani 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, Ghani won 32% 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 Ghani winning 55.27% of the votes with a lead of a million votes over Abdullah.

Early years of Ashraf Ghani

Ghani was born on 19 May 1949 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan. He belongs to the Ahmadzai Pashtun tribe.

He attended the American University in Beirut, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1973 and his master’s degree in 1977. Ashraf Ghani met his future wife, Rula, while studying there.

Academic career of Ashraf Ghani

He initially wanted to study Law at Columbia University but then changed his major to Cultural Anthropology. Ashraf Ghani was invited to teach at University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. 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 on Pakistani madrassas as a Fulbright Scholar.

World Bank 

He joined the World Bank in 1991, working on projects in East and South Asia through the mid-1990s.

Political career

Returning to Afghanistan after 24 years, in December 2001, Ghani left his posts at the UN and World Bank to join the new Afghan government as the chief advisor to President Hamid Karzai on 1 February 2002.

After leaving Kabul University, Ashraf Ghani co-founded the Institute for State Effectiveness with Clare Lockhart, of which he was 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.

Ghani was tipped as a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations at the end of 2006 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 Institution was also quoted, praising Ghani’s “tremendous intellect, talent and capacity.”

In 2005, Ghani 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’s meeting on UN reform, the UN–OECD–World Bank’s meeting on Fragile States and TEDGlobal. 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

Ghani was recognized as the best finance minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets. He carried out 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.

Poverty eradication through wealth creation and the establishment of citizens’ rights is the heart of Ghani’s development approach. The National Solidarity Program covers 13,000 of the country’s estimated 20,000 villages.

2009 Presidential election

Ahmadzai with Rajiv Shah and Karl W. Eikenberry
Ahmadzai with Rajiv Shah and Karl W. Eikenberry

In January 2009 an article by Ahmad Majidyar of the American Enterprise Institute included Ghani on a list of fifteen possible candidates in the 2009 Afghan presidential election.

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. Unlike other major candidates, Ghani asked the Afghan diaspora to support his campaign and provide financial support. He appointed Mohammed Ayub Rafiqi as one of his vice president candidate deputies, and paid for the noted Clinton campaign chief strategist James Carville as a campaign advisor.

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


On 28 January 2010, Ghani attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in London, pledging his support to help rebuild their country. Ashraf 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.


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

After announcing his candidacy for the 2014 elections, Ashraf 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.

Ghani meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Saadabad Palace
Ghani meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Saadabad Palace

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 Ashraf 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 officer who would carry out meaningful functions within the president’s administration. 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.

Personal life

Ashraf Ghani is married to Rula Saade, a citizen with dual Lebanese and American nationality. Rula Saade Ghani was born in a Lebanese Christian family. The couple married after they met during their studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970s. They eventually settled in the United States and obtained U.S. citizenship. However, Mr. Ghani renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2009 so he can be able to run in the Afghan elections.

Ashraf Ghani and Rula Ghani have two children, a daughter, Mariam, a Brooklyn-based visual artist, and a son, Tariq. Both were born in the United States and carry US citizenship and passports. In an unusual move for a politician in Afghanistan, Ghani at his presidential inauguration in 2014 publicly thanked his wife. Acknowledging her with an Afghan name, Bibi Gul. “I want to thank my partner, Bibi Gul, for supporting me and Afghanistan,” he said. “She has always supported Afghan women and I hope she continues to do so.”

Main Source: Wikipedia


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