(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Amit Chaturvedi)
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani left capital Kabul on Sunday with four cars and a helicopter full of cash, news agency Reuters reported. It quoted Russian news agency RIA to report that Ghani had to leave some money behind as it would not all “fit in”. “Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” Nikita Ishchenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, was quoted as saying by RIA.
Ischenko cited “witnesses” as the source of his information. Ghani’s current whereabouts are unknown. Reports claim that he is in Oman after Tajikistan denied the aircraft carrying him the permission to land. Reports also said that Ghani is headed to the United States. In a lengthy Facebook post just before leaving Afghanistan, Ghani had said on Sunday that he is doing so to avoid bloodshed.
Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul on Sunday, completing the takeover which began at a stunning pace in the wake of the withdrawal of US and Nato forces. Photos from Kabul showed Taliban leaders in the presidential palace, from where the Ghazi government once carried out day-to-day affairs.
In Kabul, a tense calm set in, with most people hiding in their homes as the Taliban deployed fighters at major intersections. There were scattered reports of looting and armed men knocking on doors and gates, and there was less traffic than usual on eerily quiet streets. Fighters could be seen searching vehicles at one of the city’s main squares.