Mr Ahmadzai characterizes his education as having been as nomadic as his tribe, having studied in Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, New York, and Washington, DC. He earned his MBA in International Trade and Marketing and remains an active businessman in Afghanistan.
Mr Ahmadzai assumed the role of Chief of his tribe in 1991. In this capacity, he oversees the Ahmadzai, one of the largest Pashtun tribes, a significant portion of which resides on the southeastern side of the Durand line in Waziristan, which is semi-controlled by Pakistan. He became the Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis in 2002. Under his leadership, the Grand Council Chieftainship has evolved into a democratically elected position that is voted upon each year. As the current Grand Council Chieftain of the Kuchis, Mr Ahmadzai serves as the tribal representative of approximately one-fourth of the entire Afghan population.
When President Hamid Karzai entered office as the Interim President of the Transitional Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, he appointed Mr Ahmadzai’s brother, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the Minister of Finance for his government. Hashmat Ahmadzai’s tribal leadership roles combined with his political ties to the Karzai government have afforded him unique insights into the emerging national government of the recently reconstituted Islamic Republic of Afganistan. Mr Ahmadzai is accustomed to reflecting upon his country’s problems and seeking new ways of addressing them, as his family has been grappling with such issues for generations. He continues to pursue both business and tribal projects with a special emphasis on the relationship between the two. Says Mr Ahmadzai, “You cannot change a tribal society without first understanding how to change the tribal economy. I don’t think the rest of the world can accept this tribal culture much longer, but political changes cannot succeed in the long-term unless economic changes precede them.”
Although he is the leader of approximately a quarter of the Afghan population, Ahmadzai has rarely been cited in Western media. His first interview on record in a Western publication was in the Oxford International Review.