Diplomatic talks and trips abroad occupied Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai during the last ten days of his first month in office. Meeting with allies as well as regional rivals, the president underscored the
Pakistan, long accused by Ghani's predecessors of fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan, was on the top of Ghani's agenda. Ghani met with Sartaj Aziz, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in Kabul Oct. 19 and urged Pakistan to stop the blame game. "It is time for action," Ghani told Aziz according to a statement later released by the presidential palace. "We should avoid accusing one another and work on building trust.”
After visiting Saudi Arabia for Hajj, Ghani embarked on a pivotal four-day visit to China to explore the superpower's potential role in negotiating peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban. (Photo courtesy of president.gov.af)
Ghani followed up his Pakistan talks by a meeting with Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, the second nuclear power in the region. While its relationship with Pakistan has been tenuous, Afghanistan considers India an ally. According to the statement released by the Presidential Office of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai has called India an “old friend” and thanked Delhi for its continuing financial support.
Ghani's first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia for the religious pilgrimage of Hajj on Oct. 25. During the trip, President Ghani met with Saudi officials and discussed improving bilateral relations between the two countries. He then embarked on a four-day trip to Chinato expand economic and political relations between Kabul and Beijing.
Reward and punishment
Though foreign policy took up most of Ghani's agenda, the president also launched corruption investigations against top-ranking members of the former government. Cases against five Cabinet ministers who served under former President Hamid Karzai have been submitted to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan for further investigations.
Muhammad Amin Farhang, former Minister of Commerce, Enayatullah Qasimi, former Minister of Transport, Hamidullah Qaderi, former Minister of Transport, Sedeeq Eeshan, former Minister of Mines and Industry, and Jaleel Shams, former Minister of Finance stand accused of embezzlement and abuse of power. The Attorney-General’s Office added that more cases are yet to come.
Ghani also accepted the resignation of Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salaam Azimi and appointed Abdul Rasheed Rashid, another Supreme Court justice, in his stead. Accusing the Afghan judiciary of systemic corruption, Ghani publicly requested Abdul Salaam Azimi to vet all judges and enforce a system of reward and punishment.
On Oct. 24, Ghani approved the government budget for the upcoming year. Totaling 422 billion Afghani, it includes 282 billion for development and reckons with a budget deficit of 10.4 billion Afghani. The Ministry of Finance is charged with composing a projection of developmental projects or the next three years, taking into account the financial commitments of donors.