Afghan Biographies

Khan, Ismael

Name Khan, Ismael
Ethnic backgr. Tajik
Date of birth 1946
Function/Grade Ex Minister
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Commander 4th Corps,
Commander 6th Corps,
Governor of Herat,
Minister of Water and Energy (2004 -2009, acting Minister 2009 -20131000) stepped down because of Presidential Election 2014

3. Biodata
khan_ismaelAlhaj Mohmmad Ismael son of Haji Mohammad Aslam, born in 1327 in Naser Abad village of Shindand district of Herat, has done his primary education in Waez Kashifi High School. In 1339 he was admitted to the sixth grade of Cadet School and earned the degree of his higher education from Cadet University in 1349. He joined the division no. 17 of national army in Herat and started Jihad as the division revolted.

He was serving as Amir of South western parts of the country in 1360. In 1369 after the formation of interim government he acquired the military rank of a General and was appointed as the governor and commander of corps number 4 of Herat province.

In 1376 he was detained by the Taliban and spent three years in their jail, after the fall of Taliban he was again appointed as the governor of Herat and commander of the corps number 6. A Dec. 19, 2009, memorandum distributed internally under US Ambassador in Kabul Eikenberry's name described Khan as "the worst of Karzai's choices" for Cabinet members. "This former warlord is known for his corruption and ineffectiveness at the energy ministry," the memo said. Concerns about Khan and his ministry surfaced soon after he took over the agency in 2004.

Consultants hired to identify problems in the ministry estimated that corruption contributed to the loss of $100 million or more each year from the country's electricity system that should go back to the Afghan government, according to reports produced for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Jalil Shams, a former deputy to Khan at the energy ministry who now heads the country's power utility, said he thought most ghost employees, considered a longtime problem at the ministry, had been removed from the payroll, but that much make-work employment, where people are paid for little or no work, remained. "You are employed, but you really are not producing anything," Shams said. "Work that could be done by one person is done by five."

The ministry deals in tens of millions of dollars in cash annually. Each year, however, it reports collecting far less in revenue than the retail value of the electricity it produces for customers. Khan has explained the gap by saying it cost more to produce the electricity than customers pay. As much as 20 percent of the shortfall is the result of electricity lost due to a substandard distribution and transmission system, according to a report from USAID.

Khan's financial disclosure statements, now required of Afghan officials, list two houses in Herat, a hotel, a garden and $240,000 in cash. He reported a monthly government income of about $3,650, which includes his salary and $1,250 in food allowance, and rental income of about $3,000 a year.

Since 2009 Ismael Khan is acting Minister of the Ministry of Water and Energy. He was introduced to the Wolesi Jirga for a vote of confidence, but failed. President Karzai did not present a new candidate for confirmation by the Wolesi Jirga up to spring 2011, which is against the Afghan Constitution.

The Afghan parliament approved the nine nominated minister in the 20120305 session. Mohammad Ismail Khan winning 176 votes got the post of Water and Energy Minister.

Karim Khoram, a representative of the Zabuli Foundation, told Afghanistan's corruption watchdog that the Minister of Energy and Water Mohammad Ismail Khan has surely "land-grabbed" the property of now deceased Abdul Majid Zabuli in Herat province. Karim Khoram, who is also an heir to Zabuli's properties in Herat, Kabul and Nangarhar provinces, said the use of the land by the Minister went against the last wishes of Zabuli himself.(20120527)

Wolesi Jirga is expected to impeach the Minister of Energy and Water Mohammad Ismail Khan on 20121203 after 55 lawmakers voted in favour of his removal, the Administrative Office of the Wolesi Jirga said 20121202.  Khan has become unpopular with the lawmakers after publically calling last month for the former mujahedeen figures to take up arms and join the private army of the Jihadi Council he leads.(20121202). Khan won the vote of confidence in Wolesi Jirga 20121203.  Khan emerged unscathed with the support of 140 of 172 members present, dealing a blow to efforts by President Hamid Karzai to assuage public fears about the effectiveness of Afghanistan's security forces after their foreign backers leave.

Ismail Khan was at the entrance to a mosque in the western city of Herat when a suicide bomber detonated explosives nearby. The head of the provincial council in Herat, Dawood Qattali said that Khan, who was attending Friday Prayers, was not injured.(20140124)

He is a nominee for vice president, running on a ticket with Abdurrab Rasul Sayaf, one of 11 candidates in Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election in April.

In 2009, Khan survived a suicide attack in Herat that killed four of his bodyguards.
Sayyaf's two vice-presidential running mates -- former Energy and Water Minister Ismail Khan and former lawmaker Abdul Wahab Erfan -- both proclaimed their support for Abdullah.(20140603)

Ismael Khan reportedly earns a monthly income of around 19 million AFN (approximately USD 292,000) from leasing out three markets in the centre of Herat city alone. Additionally, he has intervened in other economic sectors from hospitality to partnerships with major business people since 2001. One example is the swish, multi-storey Esteqlal Hotel in downtown Herat that is owned by him and where foreign guests, visiting government officials and those close to the ‘amir’ stay. Ismail Khan’s continued political and economic influence in Herat would certainly help him sustain and even enhance his standing in Afghanistan’s national political sphere, particularly via the Council for Protection and Stability of Afghanistan, where he heads the defence and security committee. Nevertheless, many in Herat agree that the nature of his influence has changed. It is said, that Ismail Khan is no longer the only determining man in town,because others have risen and are vying for power. This has been possible, broadly speaking, because of Herat’s socioeconomic dynamics, including the entry of more educated younger people into politics and the rise of new economic-political actors. In Herat, we now see a diffusion of political power, what in this dispatch is referred to as ‘scattered politics’.(20170111)

Sayed Taha Sadeq running from Herat for a seat in Wolesi Jirga 2018. He is the son of western Afghanistan’s grey eminence, former governor Ismail Khan. (20181018)

The Taliban has captured Ismail Khan – the prominent local commander who fought on behalf of the Afghan government in the city of Herat. Khan, who was one of the highest profile commanders fighting for the Afghan government, was handed over with the provincial governor and security officials as part of an agreement with the Taliban, said provincial council member Ghulam Habib Hashimi. A spokesman for Khan later said the commander had been allowed to return to his residence following negotiations with the Taliban. (20210813) Ismail Khan unexpectedly resurfaced in Mashad, Iran after being captured by the Taliban on Friday, Aug. 13.(20210818)

Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, has met in Tehran with Ahmad Massoud, leader of the Resistance Front, and Ismail Khan, the former governor of Herat province. Masoud and Khan were given assurance about their safe return to Afghanistan.(20220109)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the commission for liaison with Afghan officials and Political figures have invited Amir Mohammad Ismail Khan to return to the country several times, but he insists on staying abroad, according to Wasiq.(20221022)


Ismael Khan speaks Dari, Pashto and English.

Last Modified 2023-02-15
Established 2009-10-09