Central Banker on the fall of Afghanistan, 2021

Ajmal Ahmady, the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) posted a series of tweets about events in the country and at the Kabul airport.

Extracts:

1/The collapse of the Government in Afghanistan this past week was so swift and complete – it was disorienting and difficult to comprehend.

2/Although much of the rural areas fell to the Taliban over the past few months, the first provincial capital to fall was just 1 week and two days ago!

  • This is how the events seemed to proceed from my perspective as Central Bank Governor.
  • On Friday August 6th, Ziranj fell. Over the next 6 days, a number of other provinces fell – particularly in the north.

3/There were multiple rumors that directions to not fight were somehow coming from above.

  • Seems difficult to believe, but there remains a suspicion as to why ANSF left posts so quickly. There is something left unexplained

4/Currency volatility and other indicators had worsened, but DAB were able to stabilize the macroeconomic environment relatively well during the last week – given the deteriorating security environment.

5/I attended my normal (Thursday) meetings. Ghazni fell in the morning.

  • I left work, and by the time I went home – Herat, Kandahar, and Baghdis also fell. Helmand was also under serious attack

6/Friday – we received a call that given the deteriorating environment, we wouldn’t get any more dollar shipments.

  • People spread rumors that I had fled on Friday.
  • On Saturday, DAB had to supply less currency to the markets on Saturday, which further increased panic.

7/Currency spiked from a stable 81 to almost 100 then back to 86. I held meetings on Saturday to reassure banks and money exchangers to calm them down. I can’t believe that was one day before Kabul fell

8/On Saturday night, my family called to say that most government had already left. I was dumbfounded.

  • A security assessment accurately forecast Taliban arrival to Kabul within 36 hours and its fall within 56 hours
  • I got worried & purchased tickets for Monday as a precaution

9/On Sunday I began work. Reports throughout morning were increasingly worrisome. I left the bank and left deputies in charge. Felt terrible about leaving staff.

  • But arrived at airport & saw that Mohaqeq, Rahmani, Massoud, etc were already there! Head of parliament seems content

10/Saw VP Danish leaving – reportedly for Qatar. By then it was rumored that VP Saleh had left.

  • Ministers + others were waiting for a Fly Dubai & Emirates flights. Both were cancelled
  • I secured a Kam Air flight Sunday 7pm. Then the floor fell: the President had already left.

11/I knew right then my flight would be cancelled and there would be chaos.

  • As expected employees & military left posts. Everyone ran through gates to on Kam Air flight. 300+ passengers boarded for a 100-seat plane.
  • The plane had no fuel or pilot. We all hoped it would depart

12/However, I decided to disembark and spotted another military plane. It was surrounded by people trying to board, while the guard forces held people back and boarded their embassy staff.

  • There was a rush. Some shots were fired. Somehow, my close colleagues pushed me on board.

13/It did not have to end this way. I am disgusted by the lack of any planning by Afghan leadership. Saw at airport them leave without informing others.

  • I asked the palace if there was an evacuation plan/charter flights. After 7 years of service, I was met with silence

14/During last days, I feared not only risks related to Taliban, but fear of transition period once there is no chain of command.

  • Once president’s departure was announced, I knew within minutes chaos would follow. I cannot forgive him for creating that without a transition plan.

Finally: Did I have a reason to worry? This is the text someone sent me:

“Taliban come to and were looking for you. They were asking about Ajmal Ahmady DAB Governor.”

Whatever their personal views, I also had many personal enemies. Or maybe they just wanted to greet me.

Follow Ajmal Ahmady at @aahmady.

1 thought on “Central Banker on the fall of Afghanistan, 2021

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