New Delhi: “I saw the Afghan President escape with millions,” claims Brigadier General Piraz Ata Sharifi, the bodyguard of former Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani, adding that the latter left him to hide in squalid cellars after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August, the Daily Mail reported.
In Daily Mail said that Sharifi has also promised to expose the corruption of his former boss who, he says, fled the country with bags containing hundreds of millions of dollars of public money.
The general has the palace CCTV evidence to prove this, the Brigadier General said, adding that he will share proof if he can escape from Afghanistan.
That is a pretty big “if”. And getting bigger by the day. Because a manhunt has been declared across the Afghan capital and this week the Taliban dragnet was closing in, the report said.
Now the former President has fled, the Western-backed government is history and General Sharifi, who to his chagrin was not privy to the VIP evacuation, has a price on his head.
Wanted posters to that effect have appeared at Taliban security positions all over Kabul.
They show the General’s mugshot and the following words: “(This is) General Piraz Sharifi, who also has the nickname ‘Ata’. He was the special guard of the president. He has 300 weapons with him now. If you know about the person or his location, you should inform the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
“There is a reward for such information of one million Afghanis.”
So the General has been reduced to living, quite literally, an underground existence; moving from cellar to squalid cellar.
The General’s dread of capture is heightened by the knowledge that the search is being directed by the most ruthless member of the new Taliban government, the report said.
One of the General’s brothers has already been recognised in the street and summarily shot.
Recounting the events that led to Ghani’s exit, the General said: “We were waiting for the president there. But then I got a call to say that instead of coming to the Defence Ministry, the President had gone to the airport.
“The Defence Minister had also fled. So had my boss. So had all of Ghani’s close family and entourage.”
But not the general and other VIPs, who were not quite as close to the inner circle as they had thought.
“The President never told us he was going,” he said. “They just escaped and left me behind.”
He said: “I have a (CCTV) recording (from the palace) which shows that an individual at the Afghan Bank brought a lot of money to Ghani before he left.
“Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars. There were many big bags and they were heavy. It was not rice.”
He pats a bag of rice beside him, ruefully, Daily Mail reported.
“This money was supposed to be for the currency exchange market. Each Thursday, the dollars were brought for that purpose.
“Instead, it was taken by the president. Ghani knew in the end what would happen. So he took all the money and escaped. I never thought he would do that. But I have the evidence which I will share when I am in a safe place.”