Brother of former Afghan president supports Taliban, defends Ashraf Ghani fleeing country

Hashmat Ghani, the brother of Afghanistan’s deposed President Ashraf Ghani, says he has accepted the Taliban’s takeover of the country but has called for the formation of an inclusive government.

In an interview from Kabul to Al-Jazeera, Ghani said acknowledging the new order in Kabul was a necessity “for the people of Afghanistan” at a time when foreign forces are only days away from their final withdrawal.

Ghani, a businessman and grand chieftain of Afghanistan’s nomadic Kochi population, has been meeting Taliban leaders for the past several days. He said he agreed to recognise the transition of power as a signal to influential political and cultural figures, as well as businesspeople.

He said if businesspeople who had invested millions in schools, hospitals, stores, universities and other entrepreneurial efforts joined the tens of thousands of people trying to flee the country it would be “devastating” to the country’s economy and overall future.

Though his brother, the former president, fled on August 15, the younger Ghani says he never had any intention to leave the country.

“If I were to flee there what would become of my people, my tribe … My roots are here, what kind of message would that send if I just fled and left my people in their time of need?” he said.

Of his brother’s absconding, Ghani says he is glad the former president at least left with his life intact.

“If he had gotten assassinated or killed in any way, things would have gotten much worse.”

Ghani said it is important to bridge divides in Afghan society; which means the Taliban finding a way to accept modern amenities and advancements, and younger Afghans and opponents of the group being able to engage with the Taliban, whom many of them had likely never seen up close until last week.

“When you haven’t been around certain kinds of people, appearances can be deceiving or even frightening,” Ghani said.

Footage of Ghani meeting with members of the Taliban has spread across Afghan social media and has resulted in some critical and abusive comments.

He acknowledges the fear that hangs over the capital, but stressed the need for an inclusive government that would include experts in their fields, women and young people. That, he said, will be the way to ease tensions.