Who is Ali Ahmad Jalali, likely the next Afghanistan chief under Taliban?

Jalali is one of the foremost personalities to emerge from the country
Last Updated 16 August 2021, 08:10 IST

Former Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali is poised to become chief of the interim Afghanistan administration, following the Taliban takeover of Kabul on Sunday, Reuters reported quoting diplomatic sources.

The insurgent group flocked the presidential palace in the capital for a 'peaceful transition' of power, as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, reportedly to Tajikstan.

Jalali, a US-based academic and one of the foremost personalities to emerge from the country, has been involved in the affairs of Afghanistan for decades.

He was born in Kabul but is a US citizen since 1987. Thanks to the US, in 2003, he was appointed interim Interior Minister in Afghanistan and retained the position post elections in 2004.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, under George Bush's war on terror, and ousted the Taliban, who were sheltering the Al Queda and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind September 11 attacks on World Trade Centre in New York.

Jalali, a former Afghan army colonel who looked after the resistance movement in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion in 1970s, was then picked by the US to revamp the perennially weak governments in Afghanistan.

While in the US, he worked as a journalist and has written extensively on Afghanistan affairs, including the book 'The Other Side of the Mountain'.

His move back home in 2003 was the US's strategic move to appoint Afghan emigres in key positions to avoid evoking the nationalistic uprising of the Afghan nationals which had weakened previous foreign invasions, both British and the Soviets.

"I came here because I thought I could make a difference," he told the New York Times then.

He was once despised by the Taliban and warlords in the country. Now, two decades later, when the Taliban has made its comeback to Kabul, Jalali's likely entry marks a new era in Afghanistan politics.

Last week, when the Taliban was halfway through its sweep, Jalali wrote, "The rapid fall of one-third of Afghanistan provincial capitals within one week belies the much-hyped claims of tenacity of the Afghan National Defense and security forces as they fast crumbled in the face of advancing insurgent fighters."

(Published 16 August 2021, 06:36 IST)

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