Text message and a call from Pak heralded Ashraf Ghani’s exit from Afghanistan

“The pilots refused to go to the airport with Rula as they had heard that rogue Afghan soldiers were seizing or grounding helicopters there,” claimed the New Yorker.
Ashraf Ghani

Kabul: The New Yorker magazine, a reputed publication, has claimed that it was in fact a text message, followed by a telephone call from a Pakistani number that persuaded then Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib to leave the country at the time when Taliban were entering Kabul in mid-August this year.

As per the claims of the New Yorker magazine, a text message came in the afternoon of August 15, the day when the Taliban seized control of Kabul and toppled the Ashraf Ghani regime in a matter of just over two weeks after the departure of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

“Khalil Haqqani, a leader of the Taliban faction named after his family, wished to speak with Mohib. He took the call from Haqqani who asked him to surrender,” the magazine claimed.

“Mohib called Tom West, a deputy to (Ambassador Zalmay) Khalilzad in Doha, to inform him about the call. West told him not to go to any meeting because it might be a trap,” the New Yorker magazine added.

Later that day, Mohib met Ghani and a diplomat from the UAE to discuss the possible evacuation plan. And at noon, it was agreed that Mohib, along with Ghani, his wife Rula and some other staff should leave for the UAE at the earliest.

“Mohib’s UAE contacts offered seats on an Emirates Airlines flight scheduled to depart Kabul at 4 that afternoon. President Ghani asked Mohib to escort Rula to Dubai and then join the negotiating team in Doba to finalise talks with Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar about the handover of Kabul,” the revelations of the New Yorker report added.

At least three of President Ashraf Ghani’s Mi-17s were at the palace while the fourth was at the airport. Mohib was informed that the pilots had fully fueled the helicopters because they wanted to fly directly to Tajkistan or Uzbekistan as other Afghan military pilots had used the same escape route.

“The pilots refused to go to the airport with Rula as they had heard that rogue Afghan soldiers were seizing or grounding helicopters there,” claimed the New Yorker.

The magazine also claimed that Mohib was doubtful about the loyalty of the bodyguards if the Taliban entered the palace grounds, adding that there were inefficient means to protest against the President.

It is revealed that Ghani wanted to pick up some more belongings, but because Mohib was worried that every minute they delayed, they risked touching off panic and revolt by armed guards, “Ghani climbed into a car, without so much as his passport”.

While this was going on in Kabul, Ambassador Khalilzad was in Doha discussing a surrender plan with Mullah Baradar. Baradar agreed not to enter Kabul and withdraw his Taliban fighters.

However, when this was communicated to Ghani, he was not ready to trust Baradar or Khalilzad.

“Yet this was based on assurances from Khalilzad and the Taliban, and Ghani regarded both as unreliable source,” claimed the report.

As Ashraf Ghani flew off to Uzbekistan, his palace guards and other staffers, who had no idea where Ghani or Mohib had gone, were left with no other option but to negotiate their mercy with the Taliban.

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