While women in Afghanistan are consumed with dread about the return of the Taliban’s oppressive rule, the daughter of the country’s exiled President Ashraf Ghani is living the artist life in New York City.
Mariam Ghani, a 42-year-old visual artist and filmmaker, enjoys a bohemian lifestyle in her Brooklyn loft, where the contrast to harsh Taliban rule over women and girls couldn’t be more stark.
The Post caught up to her Tuesday, days after her dad abandoned the country to the Taliban and his citizens to the extremist militant group’s control.
She refused to answer questions from a reporter outside her apartment, located in a luxury co-op building on a quiet, leafy block of Clinton Hill, near buzzy restaurants and the Pratt Institute.
Her embattled Afghan-leader dad snuck out of the presidential palace Sunday with his inner-circle of confidantes, and, according to the Russian embassy in Kabul, fled with four vehicles and a helicopter full of cash. His destination wasn’t immediately revealed, though some reports have suggested he bolted to a neighboring country, like Uzbekistan or Tajikistan.
In a social media post from an unknown location, Ashraf Ghani, 72, claimed he had made his escape in order to save lives, writing, “If I had stayed, countless of my countrymen would be martyred and Kabul would face destruction and turn into ruins that could result to a human catastrophe for its six million residents.”
Politicians and experts, however, say his sudden departure hampered negotiations for a smooth transfer of power with the Taliban — and that Ghani left his own people in the lurch, facing chaos and dread about a return to the militant group’s brutal rule.
In a post on her Instagram Monday, Mariam Ghani said she was “angry and grieving and terribly afraid for family, friends & colleagues left behind in Afghanistan,” adding that she was “working feverishly to do anything I can on their behalf.”
It’s unclear whether Ghani, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in suburban Maryland, has heard from her dad or even knows where he is.
While her dad worked in the Afghan government beginning in 2002 — before he was elected president first in 2014, and then again in 2019 — Ghani was launching her art and teaching career.
Her work has since appeared in some of the most renowned museums in the world, including the Guggenheim and MOMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London. In 2018, she joined the faculty at Bennington College in Vermont.
Her first feature documentary, “What We Left Unfinished,” about five films that were started and left abandoned during the Communist era in Afghanistan, is now playing in select theaters.
“I grew up very much in between cultures,” she said in her artist bio. “And that’s the position I work from as an artist.”
The daughter hasn’t publicly commented on her dad’s recent actions. In a 2015 New York Times article about her work, she said she thought he was “remarkable.”
“He’s always been a remarkable person,” Mariam Ghani told the newspaper at the time, without elaborating.
Before he returned to Afghanistan in 2001, Ashraf Ghani — an academic who holds a doctorate from New York City’s Columbia University — worked at the UN and World Bank.
He and his wife, Rula Ghani, who is from Lebanon, raised their two kids, Mariam and Tarek in Maryland, when Ashraf taught at Johns Hopkins University. Mariam Ghani attended New York University and the School of Visual Arts.
Asked about growing up the daughter of a foreign leader, Mariam Ghani told the Times, “There’s plenty of people in the art world who don’t know, which is preferable.”
The 2015 profile described Ghani as “a feminist, an archivist and an activist” who was “as well-versed in the politics of extraordinary rendition as she is in the very Brooklyn pursuit of homemade chile-passion-fruit sorbet.”
In her Instagram post Monday, Ghani didn’t specifically mention the plight of Afghan women — who are once again reporting being cut off from school, work or potentially being forced into marriages with Taliban fighters.
She did, however, provide resources for people looking to help Afghanistan residents, including by writing to elected officials in the US and by volunteering with or making donations to organizations helping refugees.
“To everyone who has checked in and reached out in solidarity over the past days: thank you. It has meant a lot,” she wrote. “I’m pretty burned out, but I hope I’ll be able to reply to you all individually at some point.”
Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli