The former president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, has defended his flight from the country in mid-August as the Taliban closed in on Kabul.
He told British broadcaster BBC that his flight was not planned and that he did it to prevent bloodshed in the city.
“On the morning of that day, I had no inkling that by late afternoon I will be leaving,” he said.
His national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib, was “literally terrified” and gave him “not more than two minutes” to decide what to do.
“Only when we took off did it become clear that we were leaving. So this really was sudden,” he said.
Earlier plans to leave for Khost or Jalalabad were abandoned as he was told those cities too had fallen.
Ghani fled Kabul on August 15 after Taliban fighters surrounded the Afghan capital following lightning military territorial gains and the capture of all provincial capitals.
Taliban representatives had at the time said it was not their intention to attack the city, but Ghani told the BBC that his key security advisers had told him the Taliban had reneged on their pledge not to enter Kabul.
Ghani’s flight meant an orderly transfer of power was not possible, and allowed the Taliban to simply fill the security vacuum. Many Afghans now accuse Ghani, who is in the United Arab Emirates, of simply handing them over to the Taliban.
But he argues that he had no choice in order to save lives. Ghani said that he was being made a “scapegoat” for the current crisis and chaos in Afghanistan.
He said he was wrong to “trust international partners” who, he said, had put him under constant pressure and curtailed his authority. Assuming that the international community’s patience would last was “a huge mistake,” he said.