Childhood & Early Life
Dr. Ashraf Ghani was born in a wealthy Pashtun family in Afghanistan on February 12, 1949. He spent his childhood in the province of Logar.
Ghani completed his primary and secondary education at the Habibia High School in Kabul.
In 1973, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the American University in Beirut.
In 1974, he came back to Kabul to teach Afghan studies and Anthropology at Kabul University.
In 1977, he left Afghanistan after winning a government scholarship to study for a Master’s degree in Anthropology at New York’s Columbia University.
Ghani earned his Ph.D degree on state-building and social transformation from the same and started teaching at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983.
He was also part of the faculty of Aarhus University in Denmark (1977) and taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to1991. During this period, he worked as a commentator on the BBC Dari and Pashto services, broadcast in Afghanistan.
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In 1991, Dr. Ghani joined the World Bank as lead anthropologist. He served the bank for 11 years and played an important role in formulating the Bank’s social policy and designing reform programs.
While working for the World Bank, he attended the Harvard-INSEAD and Stanford business school leadership training program.
After the downfall of the Taliban in late 2001, Ghani was asked to serve as Special Adviser to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Afghanistan.
On February 1, 2002, Ghani joined as Chief Advisor to Interim President Hamid Karzai, on a pro bono basis.
On June 2, 2002, Ghani joined office as the Finance Minister of Afghanistan. During his term, he designed the program of block grants to villages called the National Solidarity Program.
On December 22, 2004, he joined as chancellor of Kabul University. For the next four years, Ghani advocated his concept of shared governance among the faculty.
In 2005 Ghani gave keynote speeches for meetings like the American Bar Association’s International Rule of Law Symposium, the annual meeting of the Norwegian Government’s development staff, CSIS’ meeting on UN reform, and the UN-OECD-World Bank’s meeting on Fragile States.
On May 7, 2009, he registered as a candidate for the 2009 Afghan presidential election. His campaign focused on the eradication of poverty, employment opportunities for citizens and a dynamic economy.
He could secure only 3% of the votes and was placed in the fourth position.
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On January 28, 2010, Ghani pledged his support for a reconstruction of Afghanistan in the International Conference on Afghanistan in London.
Ghani selected General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the Uzbek politician and Sarwar Danish, the Justic Minister in Karzai’s cabinet as vice presidential candidates for the 2014 elections.
On June 14, 2014, a run-off election was held between Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the two front runners.
The election ended in a stalemate because of allegations of electoral fraud, following which an audit of three months took place.
On September 22, 2014, after the audit results, Ghani, winning 55.4% of the popular votes, was declared as the president by the Independent Election Commission.
On September 29, 2014, Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
During his term as the country’s Finance Minister, Ghani played a key role in issuing a new currency, institutionalizing the treasury count, centralizing revenue and reforming the tariff system. His reform policies focused on poverty eradication and the establishment of citizenship rights.
After leaving the Kabul University, he co-founded the Institute for State Effectiveness with Clare Lockhart.
In appreciation of his services, Ashraf Ghani was awarded the Sayed Jamal-ud-Din Afghan medal, the highest civilian award in Afghanistan.
He was recognized as the Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003 by ‘Emerging Markets’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Ashraf Ghani met his wife Rula Saade, a Lebanese Christian at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and got married in the 1970s.
The couple was granted a U.S. citizenship but later Ghani renounced it, after he joined the Afghanistan ministry.
They have a daughter, Mariam, a visual artist in Brooklyn and a son, Tariq. Both are U.S. citizens.