Thursday, October 9, 2014

A00047 - Ashraf Ghani, President of Pakistan

Ghani, Ashraf
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (Pashto: اشرف غني احمدزی‎, Persian: اشرف غنی احمدزی‎) (b. February 12, 1949) became the President of Afghanistan on September 21, 2014.  He was an economist and anthropologist. Usually referred to as Ashraf Ghani, he previously served as Finance Minister and as the chancellor of Kabul University. 

Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, Ghani, worked with the World Bank.  As the Finance Minister of Afghanistan between July 2002 and December 2004, he led Afghanistan's attempted economic recovery after the collapse of the Taliban government.  

He is the co-founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization set up in 2005 to improve the ability of states to serve their citizens. In 2005 he gave a TED talk, in which he discussed how to rebuild a broken state such as Afghanistan. Ghani is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor,  an independent initiative hosted by the United Nations Development Programme. In 2013, he was ranked second in an online poll to name the world's top 100 intellectuals conducted by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, ranking just behind Richard Dawkins. He previously was named in the same poll in 2010.

Ghani came in fourth in the 2009 presidential election, behind Hamid Karsai, Abdullah Abdullah, and Ramazan Bashardost.  In the first round of the 2014 presidential election,  Ghani won 31.5% of the vote, second to Abdullah who secured 45% of the votes cast. Both candidates went on to contest a run-off election, which was held on June 14, 2014.



Ghani is the brother of Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai, Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis.

Ghani was born in 1949 in the Logar Province of Afghanistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun of the Ahmadzai tribe.  He completed his primary and secondary education in Habibia High School in Kabul. He attended the American University in Beirut, where he earned his bachelors degree in 1973. Ghani met his future wife, Rula Ghani while studying at the American University of Beirut. He returned to Afghanistan in 1977 to teach anthropology at Kabul University before receiving a government scholarship in 1977 to pursue his Master's degree in anthropology at Columbia University in the United States.

Ghani initially wanted to study Law at Columbia University but then changed his major to Cultural Anthropology.  He applied to teach at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983, and then at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991. During this period he became a frequent commentator on the BBC Farsi/Persian and Pashto services, broadcast in Afghanistan. He has also attended the Harvard-INSEAD and World Bank-Stanford Graduate School of Business' leadership training program.  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. 

Ashraf Ghani married Rula Saade, a citizen with dual Lebanese and American nationality. Rula Saade Ghani was born in a Lebanese Maronite Christian family. The couple married after they met during their studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970s. There is no confirmation or otherwise for her conversion to Islam to marry Ashraf Ghani. Mrs. Ghani is reportedly fluent in English, French, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

Ashraf and Rula Ghani have two children, a daughter, Miriam Ghani, and a son, Tariq. Both were born in the United States and carry United States citizenship and passports. In an unusual move for a politician in a traditional Islamic country, Mr. Ghani at his presidential inauguration in 2014 publicly thanked his wife, acknowledging her with an Afghan name, Bibi Gul. 

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