Ghani criticized for 'unpatriotic' and 'sad' departure from Afghanistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
(Image credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, leaving behind furious politicians and citizens who don't understand how he could abandon them.

Ghani left ahead of the Taliban taking over the presidential palace in Kabul, and was accompanied by several members of his cabinet. After his departure, his top rival, Abdullah Abdullah, posted a video on Facebook saying Ghani "left the nation in this state" and for that, "God will hold him to account."

Over the last few months, the Taliban began capturing key border crossings and towns, and the militant group launched a blitz this past week, seizing major cities and provincial capitals until Kabul was all that was left. Al Jazeera spoke with several people who believe that for the Taliban to move so swiftly and successfully across Afghanistan, they had to have secretly been working with the government.

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Atta Mohammad Noor, former commander of the Balkh province, accused the government of being involved in a "big organized and cowardly plot," and a politician from an eastern province who asked to remain anonymous told Al Jazeera Ghani was "lying to the people the whole time" and "keeping the Afghan people in the dark." He scoffed at a pre-taped statement released Saturday, the last televised address by Ghani, in which the president said he would "concentrate on preventing expansion of instability, violence, and displacement of my people," just a few hours before Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif both fell to the Taliban.

Ghani's departure was "unpatriotic and sad," one former member of the U.S. National Security Council said, telling Al Jazeera his legacy is of a leader who "caused chaos within the region, divided the people, created hostility amongst the ethnic groups, and broke democracy." A former ambassador echoed these comments, saying history won't remember Ghani kindly: "Being president, he saw the writing on the wall for some time. He could have managed an orderly and peaceful political transition before leaving the country. He didn't."

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