Farooq Wardak, the former Education Minister who was accused of establishing “ghost schools” in conflict areas, has been welcomed by the Taliban, after returning to the country.
Officials claimed a former Afghan minister who left when the Taliban took control of the country last year returned on Wednesday after receiving security assurances as part of the Islamist group’s effort to bring back high-profile figures.
Farooq Wardak has returned to the country due to the efforts of the Taliban commission for Return and Communications with Former Afghan Officials and Political Figures, which was established to encourage officials to return to the country.
Wardak had returned from Turkey, according to Ahmad Wasiq, the Taliban commission for Return and Communications with Former Afghan Officials and Political Figures’ spokesman.
“The majority of authorities are considering returning,” the former Minister of Education said, adding that he felt respected and happy in his country, though he noted that a small group may not choose to return.
Farooq Wardak is well-known among former government ministers for embezzling international aid and funds to the Ministry of Education, widespread corruption, and budget deficits for nonexistent schools.
He was the Minister of Education for a long time, and the term “ghost schools” was coined to refer to the nonexistant schools for which he had siphoned millions of dollars from the ministry’s budget, and it quickly spread in the media.
In fact, the phrase “ghost schools” was first introduced in a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which accused Farooq Wardak of establishing “non-existant schools in conflict zones”.
According to SIGAR, the US Agency of International Development alone has provided about $770 million to the Afghan Ministry of Education since 2015, with the exclusion of the international community and international organizations.
Farooq Wardak has returned to the country with such a large number of charges leveled against him, and some social media users have criticized the Taliban for claiming to be Islamic and just while welcoming people like Farooq Wardak.