Technocrat-turned-politician Ashraf Ghani served as a former finance minister and close advisor to President Hamid Karzai's government.
He has worked for the World Bank, the United Nations and, more recently, was Chancellor of Kabul University. Ghani attended university in the United States and comes from Afghanistan's powerful Ahmadzai Pashtun tribe. Members of the tribe have served for centuries as ministers and generals.
Ghani is currently running fourth according to two U.S. funded opinion polls. His strength is his experience as a senior economist in a country torn apart torn apart by foreign invasions and decades of internal conflict. As finance minister, Ghani introduced a new currency, a new banking system and imposed taxes on the rich.
His message is one of government gone wrong. Ghani, a stern reformist, says President Karzai has lost his legitimacy among the people and, thus, his capacity to govern.
He has also sharply criticized the Karzai government for engaging in "massive" corruption. He pledges transparency and decries Afghanistan's burgeoning narcotics industry.
Ghani was the first candidate to put up a sophisticated Web site and one of his campaign advisors is American political strategist James Carville, who played a key role in former U.S. President Bill Clinton's 1992 victory.