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Ashraf Ghani


Ashraf Ghani

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
Minister of Finance
In office
June 2002 – December 2004
President Hamid Karzai
Preceded by Hedayat Amin Arsala
Succeeded by Anwar ul-Haq Ahady
Personal details
Born 1949 (age 64–65)
Logar, Afghanistan
Alma mater Kabul University
Columbia University
Religion Islam

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is an Afghan politician and the former chancellor of Kabul University. He is also the chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization set up in 2005 to improve the ability of states to serve their citizens. Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, Ahmadzai was a leading scholar of political science and anthropology. He worked at the World Bank working on international development assistance. As Finance Minister of Afghanistan between July 2002 and December 2004, he led Afghanistan's attempted economic recovery after the collapse of the Taliban. He is usually referred to as Ashraf Ghani, while Ahmadzai is the name of his (Pashtun) tribe.

Ghani is also a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an independent initiative hosted by the UNDP. In the 2009 presidential election, he ranked fourth in the polls, behind Hamid Karzai, his main opponent Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and Ramazan Bashardost.[1]

In 2010, Foreign Policy Magazine placed him in its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.[2] In 2013, Prospect magazine placed him second in their world thinkers poll.[3]

Early years

Ghani was born in 1949 in Logar Province, Afghanistan. An ethnic Pashton, Pakhtun from an influential Ahmadzai family, he completed his primary and secondary education in Habibia High School in Kabul. He travelled to Lebanon to attend the American University in Beirut, earning his first degree in 1973. There he met his future wife, Rula. He returned to Afghanistan in 1977 to teach Afghan studies and anthropology at Kabul University before winning a government scholarship in 1977 to study for a Master's degree in anthropology at Columbia University, intending to be away for two years.

Academic career

When the PDPA communist party came to power in Kabul, most of the male members of his family were imprisoned and Ahmadzai was stranded in America. He stayed at Columbia and earned his PhD in Cultural Anthropology and was immediately invited to teach at University of California, Berkeley (1983), and then at Johns Hopkins University (1983–1991). During this period he became a frequent commentator on the BBC Dari and Pashto services, broadcast in Afghanistan. He has also attended the Harvard-INSEAD and Stanford business schools leadership training program for the World Bank. 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 Pakistani Madrasas as a Fulbright Scholar. He also studied comparative religion.

World Bank

He joined the World Bank in 1991, working on projects in East and South Asia through the mid-1990s. In 1996, he pioneered the application of institutional and organizational analysis to macro processes of change and reform, working directly on the adjustment program of the Russian coal industry and carrying out reviews of the Bank’s country assistance strategies and structural adjustment programs globally. He spent five years each in China, India, and Russia managing large-scale development and institutional transformation projects. He worked intensively with the media during the first Gulf War, commenting on radio and television and in newspaper interviews.


After 9/11, he took leave without pay from the World Bank and engaged in intensive interaction with the media, appearing regularly on PBS’s NewsHour as well as BBC, CNN, US National Public Radio, other broadcasters, and writing for major newspapers. In November 2002, he accepted an appointment as a Special Advisor to the United Nations and assisted Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative of the Secretary General to Afghanistan, to prepare the Bonn Agreement, the process and document that provided the basis of transfer of power to the people of Afghanistan.

Return to Afghanistan

Returning after 24 years to Afghanistan in December 2001, he resigned from his posts at the UN and World Bank to join the Afghan government as the chief advisor to President Hamid Karzai on February 1, 2002. He worked "pro bono" and was among the first officials to disclose his assets. In this capacity, he worked on the preparation of the Loya Jirgas (grand assemblies) that elected Karzai and approved the Constitution of Afghanistan. After the 2004 election, Ghani declined to join the cabinet and asked to be appointed as Chancellor of Kabul University. As Chancello he instituted participatory governance among the faculty, students and staff, training both men and women with skills and commitment to lead their country.

After leaving the university, Ghani co-founded the Institute for State Effectiveness, of which he is 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.

Mr. Ghani was tipped as a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations at the end of 2006[4] in a front page report in The Financial Times (September 18, 2006) that quoted him as saying, “I hope to win, through ideas.” Two distinguished experts on international relations told the paper that "the UN would be very lucky indeed to have him" and praised his "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’ meeting on UN reform, the UN-OECD-World Bank’s meeting on Fragile States and TEDGlobal.[5] 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

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

On March 31, 2004, he presented a seven-year program of public investment called Securing Afghanistan’s Future[6] to an international conference in Berlin attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers. Described as the most comprehensive program ever prepared and presented by a poor country to the international community, Securing Afghanistan’s Future was prepared by a team of 100 experts working under a committee chaired by Ghani. The concept of a double-compact, between the donors and the government of Afghanistan on the one hand and between the government and people of Afghanistan on the other, underpinned the investment program. The donors pledged $8.2 billion at the conference for the first three years of the program—the exact amount requested by the government—and agreed that the government’s request for a total seven-year package of assistance of $27.5 billion was justified.

Poverty eradication through wealth creation and the establishment citizens' rights is the heart of Ghani’s development approach. In Afghanistan, he is credited with designing the National Solidarity Program,
This article is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2013)
Private investment in the sector exceeded $200 million and the telecom sector emerged as one of the major providers of tax revenue.

2009 presidential election

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.[8] 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.[9] Unlike other major candidates, Ghani asked the Afghan diaspora to support his campaign and provide financial support.[10] He appointed Mohammed Ayub Rafiqi as one of his vice president candidate deputies, and hired noted Clinton-campaign chief strategist James Carville as a campaign advisor.[11]

Preliminary results placed Ghani fourth in a field of 38, securing roughly 3% of the votes.[12]


On January 28, 2010, Ghani attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in London, pledging his support to help rebuild their country. 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.[13]

World Justice Project

Ghani is on the Board of Directors of the World Justice Project, which works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law in developing countries.

See also


External links

  • Presidential Campaign Website
  • Afghan Elections Dossier - Ashraf Ghani, August 2009 - Radio France Internationale
  • Financial Contributions to Ashraf Ghani's campaign
  • The Institute for State Effectiveness
  • TED Conference July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 19:24)
  • Authors@Google: Ashraf Ghani & Claire Lockhart A talk in Google New York office, June 20, 2008 (Duration: 1 hr)
  • TED Global in 2005
Political offices
Preceded by
Hedayat Amin Arsala
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Anwar ul-Haq Ahady

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