Ashraf Ghani Races to Make His Mark on Presidency in Afghanistan

As Mr. Ghani breaks from the courtly style of his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, his desire to move fast may put off others in his government.

Comments: 37

  1. Mr. Ghani sounds like a leader true to his country; a challenge to President Obama who has had problems lately dealing with other leaders of the world.

  2. . . . And now a ray of hope for accountability and progress in Afghanistan! May it continue.

  3. Don't make haste in your judgement.Wait till Americans withdraw.I can't understand what is the world interest in trying to destroy the Muslim character of Afghanistan. A Muslim nation having a leader whose wife is a declared non- Muslim and whose leader is praying in Church.When this Neo-Con philosophy is going to stop and let Muslim countries live in peace!

  4. Going to be waiting a long time for the Americans, British and others to withdraw. Because it not going to happen for at least another decade not after Iraq.

  5. President Ghani might get the trains to run on time, but doesn't sound like there will be an uptick for the Afghan tourism industry any time soon.

  6. President Ghani sounds very much like President Pbama. Being an admirer of Obama, considering many criticisms of him unjustified, I wish Ghani good luck also. The "ineffectual" Obama brought healthcare to millions of people without it before, something almost half a century of presidents couldn't do, including Clinton famous for his political skills.

  7. Apparently this is the guy we would need here in the US. Our esteemed politicians in Washington and in state capitols could learn a few things from him.

    It is not a question of getting the trains running on time. It is a critical issue of teaching many career politicians that their job is to serve competently, efficiently and effectively the people who elected them .

  8. If there is a country on Earth that needs to be "in a hurry," it is Afghanistan.

    Millions of their people are living in the stone age, with the traditions, superstitions, and tribal warfare that goes along with it. No electricity, no plumbing, no infrastructure, poverty everywhere.

    The way they treat women is abominable. The way they allow child brides to be bartered off is forcible rape. The way women are dressed in burkas and can be stoned for minor offenses is appalling. The way they live out Sharia Law is ridiculous and hateful.

    No freedom of religion, no free press, no functioning justice system, little education for girls, little education for boys, in that most of what they do is sit around and study the Koran and perpetuate their archaic ideas about life to the next generation.

    These are only a few reasons why Afghanistan needs a modern, educated, progressive leader. They need to be hauled out of the Dark Ages and if some of them are hauled out kicking and screaming, that's the way it goes.

    I just hope that none of their fanatics assassinate him. Ghani looks like the only true hope that country has had in hundreds of years.

  9. Katie, It's their country, not ours. The majority of the population seem to like the way of life and societal norms from many Centuries ago. The likelihood of change is, in my opinion, rather low. Haven't we proved that over the last twelve years? Isn't there some reason the place is known as "The Graveyard of Empires" ?

  10. Whether or not Mr. Ghani's mercurial predecessor, Karzai, was really mentally disturbed, the role of Afghanistan's President is such a delicate balancing act that whomever walks that tightrope is bound to disappoint Americans for the blood and treasure lost for that country.

  11. Anyone with a short term view of Afghanistan will be disappointed. Afghanistan was always a 30 to 50 years project, there was a small occasion in 2001/2 if the country was flooded with troops, engineers and resources that time table could have brought down substantially but that opportunity was well and truly miss by the Bush administration who got distracted by Iraq.

  12. Mr. Ghani sounds like a man of actions and principles. We should wish him energy and endurance. After the nefarious Karzai regime he will need plenty of both to bring the country back to order — and wean the cadre of institutionalized mercenaries from the teat of graft and thievery.

  13. So an undiplomatic non-politician will be in charge in Afghanistan. Well, they used to have a King and they were governed by the Taliban. So it's possible it could work. Good luck to Afghanistan, they are overdue. May Ghani and Abdullah work well together against the odds, with Abdullah softening the Ghani edge at lavish State Dinners.

  14. Shared a hotel lobby sofa with him at an academic convention about 40 years ago. Graduate students. He was in discussion, I mean, arguing, with a rather well-known quite senior female Brit who was a bit arrogant. Told her off right on the spot!

  15. Well done ! While everybody looks good at the starting line, I like Mr. Ghani's pragmatic style. It is a rare Official who avoids the posh benefits of his Station. It is very admirable that Mr. Ghani travels fast, and light. Woe be unto the doctors who are not present for their duties on the night shift.

    If Mr. Ghani's attention to detail is any indication, I believe Afghanistan is off towards a new, and better direction. I wish their Nation, and Mr. Ghani, good luck.

  16. It is unpleasant to imagine that Afghanistan could become even more dysfunctional under Ashraf Ghani than it was under Hamid Karzai, but every indication in this article shows that it will. Being in a hurry in a country most of which still lives as though it is in the 13th century is paradoxically a waste of time which will only alienate those President Ghani has to deal with. Underlings acting passive-aggressive in the face of an authority figure is a tried-and-true tactic to slow things down. As for his focus on institutions, he better remember they are run by people.

    Anybody who expects dramatic changes in Afghanistan hasn't been paying attention. America has spent the better part of 13 years and 3/4 of a trillion dollars there ( or more), and we have almost nothing to show for it. President Ghani is the newest leader we will be sending huge amounts to cash to in hopes of getting what we want, such as the recent long-term U.S. troop deal. When he wants more money from us, that troop deal will be put in jeopardy. He may not be using the lavish Hamid Karzai style, but he knows how to become wealthy while being a figurehead leader working for the West.

  17. Mr Ghani may be a step in the right direction. Considering the long history of Afghanistan, the task of bringing the country as a unit into the current era is daunting. He could cut his dependence on US funding if his government could gain control of the poppy growing business. As it stands now, heroin cash goes to warlords, gangsters and Taliban. It seems reasonable that a government-which is truly a government of the country, could manage to gain some control of poppy growers and the cash proceeds from sales. It is impossible to stop poppy growth so the government should make an effort to participate. The US has spent billions trying to end poppy growing in Afghanistan but this effort has been a waste of money. The political situation in Afghanistan is unstable and one suspects the Afghan army will wind up being in control of only Kabul.

  18. You bring up an important element about poppy profits. Just this evening, I saw a report that last year was Afghanistan's most lucrative year from it, despite about 7 billion in American expenses to curb it, and 80 percent of the world's heroin originates in Afghanistan. Such a successful market explains why people will fight so strongly for otherwise inhospitable land.

  19. The land isn't inhospitable through, Afghanistan could easily become the bread basket of the region, I seen one report which state that Afghanistan could produce about 4 times the amount of food it needs. And some of that could easily be cash rich crops like mint, which Afghanistan climate is perfect for growing, which can sale for 2 or 3 times the price of opium. An was gaining popularity until the Taliban started killing farmers that grew it.

  20. The Russians did the wisest move getting out of Afghanistan. Of course our heroes the Taliban using our Stinger missiles sure helped.

  21. Sounds great. What road was Afghan on before him? Not one to success? We need to see - he gets some time - the record with women's rights and education, but, this has to be an improvement over Karzai.

  22. Looks like shock therapy, that may awaken the Afghan who for centuries have stuck to their old traditional ways, customs , religion life style and modus operandi. To that extend it may work, but to what end. In that Afghanistan indeed a century behind and this go getter using efficiency over ceremony. Then with some two decade of chaos this may just be the right time to implement some hard and fast changes.
    For better he is right to root out the corruption and incompetence which has become a way of life. Perhaps, the younger generation will cope better then the older, that has kept Afghanistan in the doldrum old unworkable tradition.

  23. We could use a more businesslike approach to administration here.

  24. Including the cursory firing of inefficient and incompetent officials.

  25. Shame the president can't fire congress, and that would be just the tip of a vary large of people that needs firing.

  26. Mr Ghani sounds like breath of fresh air in Afghanistan.

    I fear for his life.

  27. The first round in the fight to see who wins control or the opening shots in the civil war that is sure to break out the minute we leave.
    The idea of two rivals sharing power in Afghanistan is really deranged.
    The idea that the Government and Army we created and installed in Afghanistan will not self-destruct just like they did in Iraq is deranged.
    The Government, the Pentagon and the Media are spinning fantasies of how things will be just fine when it is oblivious that things are about to explode.

  28. Ashraf Ghani is a leader, who has no patience for nonsense. He must have been inspired by world leaders like François Hollande and Xi Jinping!
    Ghani is definitely the right man for a country like Afghanistan. The question is whether the officials are ready to adapt themselves to his new style of governance, as many of them still dwell on the medieval tribal traditions, fostered by Hamid Karzai.
    Let's hope Abdullah Abdullah will pedal along in tandem on this "bumpy road".

  29. I'm sure US and the west love a leader like Ghani in Afghanistan who seems to be moving in similar speed; afterall, he's schooled and honed his skills in the west. I can't help but wonder how well (or terrible) the local Afghans would take such cultural shock. Sooner or later, he's going to be reduced to a caricature of US puppets dressed in tribal colors.

  30. Afghanistan is ready for change. We need a brave and thoughtful leader with expertise and knowledge to push for entrenched reforms. The young generation which makes the 65% of Afghan population have confidence in President Ghani’s ability to deliver on his campaign promises. In the decade of transformation, I am sure that President Ghani will have outstanding achievements on good governance and in particular in the fight against corruption and economic development.
    Afghans are hopeful. We need honest support of international community to climb the gigantic mountain and become a responsible and effective member member of international community.

  31. Recently, I watched an American made TV documentary about the nostalgic 80s. The Soviet army defeat in Afghanistan by US supported mujahideens was the highlight. It is depressing to know the killing of innocent Afghans never stopped. Then, by Russians later by Americans.

    Ashraf Ghani could perhaps be the right leader at the right time. It remains to be seen whether he can succeed or not in nation building of a destroyed infrastructure and social fabric. The odds are against him.

    Taliban continues to be a formidable political and military force to reckon with. The security treaty with the US makes impossible to incorporate Taliban into the political process. The bloody civil war will go on, perhaps with less intensity but unabated nonetheless.

  32. It sounds like Mr. Ghani is a breath of fresh air. He seems to really want good governance for the people. I hope he is sincere and that it works out. Afghanistan needs good and fair governance.

  33. It sound like just what Afghanistan needs. Karzai’s for the last 5 years have been 95% about politics and 5% or less about institutions and building a stable country. There still a lot of work to do in Afghanistan, decades of work to do. If this was a construction project, they are still dealing with the foundations and the site still got major flooding problems, whole and the architects are still drawing up detail plans and appointing contractors. An it going to be a long time before this build is complete and a big risk that a storm could destroy it all before it completed.

  34. I like it, but time will tell. I was totally all for Abdullah, and against Ghani, but I may have been wrong. Afghanistan needs a tough President and one who'll crack a whip and I like the temper. Like I said, "time will tell". But, I like what I've just read and I hope Ghani brings Afghanistan out of it's current condition. I would really like to return to Afghanistan as a tourist someday.

  35. Mr Ghani is trying to ape Americans for he owes his position to America, This is why the first thing he did on on being ushered to the "presidency" was to sign the documents of UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER to continued American occupation. Mr Ghani worked for the American designed and driven INSTRUMENT of FINANCIAL SLAVERY called the World Bank. He learnt to bow to every American whim, while in service. He wants to continue his servitude to America. This is why American wanted to install him as the Chief Honcho.

  36. "Ashraf Ghani Races to Make His Mark on Presidency in Afghanistan"
    Great, now can we race to stop borrowing hundreds of billions $$$ from China to prop up Afghanistan. No need for us to be in the middle - you see- China is right next door to Afghanistan and can give them the billions directly if it wishes without US having to be on the hook. Then the Islamic militants can direct their Islamic fury toward China and the Afghani politicians would finally realize that money doesn't grow on trees in USA. Oh, and China can take our place in getting their hand bitten by the people they are feeding - so to say.

  37. Courtly style? Is this a description of the same Hamid Karzai who has been engaged in ever-deepening corruption and in biting the hand which installed him in power ever harder since the US assisted the locals in liberating themselves from the Taliban?