Why Dr. Ashraf Ghani Was Best Person to Organize Kabul Conference
As U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are said to have been at odds for some time now, and Karzai is rumored to have gotten in a shouting match with U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke the role of the organizer of today’s Kabul Conference was extremely crucial.
Since the Conference is aimed at giving greater power to Karzai and his government, it was clear that the right organizer was needed to appease the Western leaders who are still not sold on Karzai’s legitimacy and effectiveness of President of Afghanistan.
Karzai’s effectiveness along with his dubious relation to half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, have been questioned for some time now by Western leaders skeptical of his ability to curb the massive corruption plaguing his nation.
Unlike Karzai however, Dr. Ashraf Ghani has a long-standing relationship with Western leaders and intellectuals that lead him to be in an ideal position for organizing a conference centered around the idea of giving the government of Afghanistan greater supremacy over its own domestic affairs.
Dr. Ghani, famously left his left post as Finance Minister for the Karzai Administration in 2004 leading many to believe that the man who worked on a pro bono basis for Karzai and disclosed all of his assets to the public, was fed up with the rampant corruption within Karzai’s government.
Having worked with the World Bank, United Nations, and Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Ghani also made a name for himself among influential Western leaders and academics, building a confidence in his abilities that the West has largely still not seen in Karzai.
Also, as the author of Securing Afghanistan‘s Future – the most comprehensive public investment plan ever presented to the developed world by a developing nation – and Fixing Failed States, Dr. Ghani can serve as a symbol for a clearly laid out plan that takes into account the language and methods of top Western decision-makers.
Though his run ill-fated for President against Karzai was criticized for being too focused upon the West, Dr. Ghani, in alliance with Democratic Strategist James Carville ran a campaign that made transparency and economic opportunities for ordinary Afghans two of its corner stones. Both goals Western leaders seem to be unsure of President Karzai’s ability to deliver upon.
It is very interesting (to say the least) to see a man who famously compared Karzai’s rule to King Lear playing such a large role in organizing a conference that would essentially give greater control over the near future of Afghanistan to Hamid Karzai, whom Dr. Ghani said owed “his Presidency to the very forces that are negative” even after the highly contested second Afghan Presidential election.
Whereas Dr. Ghani’s connections to Western elites made him the target of criticism during the Presidential elections, those very connections have very likely worked to both his and President Karzai’s favor in organizing the Kabul Conference.