Abdul Rashid Dostum : biography
Abdul Rashid Dostum ( Persian: عبدالرشید دوستم) is a former army general during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan’s Uzbek community. He is currently part of the leadership council of National Front of Afghanistan along with Ahmad Zia Massoud and Mohammad Mohaqiq, as well as chairman of his own political party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan (National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan) or commonly known as Jumbish. He is also Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Afghan National Army, a role often viewed as ceremonial. He participated in battles against the Mujahideen fighters in the 1980s as well as against the Taliban in the 1990s.
Post communist era
Dostum’s men would become an important force in the fall of Kabul in 1992. In April 1992 the opposition forces began their march to Kabul against the government of Najibullah. Dostum had allied himself with the opposition commanders Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sayed Jafar Naderi,Vogelsang (2002), p. 324. the head of the Isma’ili community and together they captured the capital city. He and Masoud fought in a coalition against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Masoud and Dostum’s forces joined together to defend Kabul against Hekmatyar, with some 4000-5000 of his troops, units of his Shiberghan-based 53rd Division and Balkh-based Guards Division garrisoning Bala Hissar fort, Maranjan Hill, and Khwaja Rawash International Airport.Anthony Davis, ‘The Battlegrounds of Northern Afghanistan,’ Jane’s Intelligence Review, July 1994, p.323-4 In 1994, Dostum allied himself with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar against the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Political and social views
While Dostum was ruling northern Afghanistan before the Taliban took over in 1998, women were able to go about unveiled, girls were allowed to go to school and study at the University of Balkh in Mazar-i Sharif, cinemas showed Indian films and music played on television, activities which were all banned by the Taliban.Vogelsang (2002) p. 232.
He viewed the ISAF forces attempt to crush the Taliban as ineffective and has gone on record saying that he could mop up the Taliban "in six months" if allowed to raise a 10,000 strong army of Afghan veterans. Senior Afghan government officials do not trust Dostum as they are concerned that he might be secretly rearming his forces.
Some human rights groups have accused his troops of human rights violations of the Taliban prisoners, charges which he denied. However, in July 2009, The NY Times reported that according to anonymous witnesses they interviewed, "over a three-day period, Taliban prisoners were stuffed into closed metal shipping containers and given no food or water; many suffocated while being trucked to the prison. Other prisoners were killed when guards shot into the containers. The bodies were said to have been buried in a mass grave in Dasht-i-Leili, a stretch of desert just outside Sheberghan. These accusations were never independently confirmed or investigated but the accusations continue.
A 2002 declassified U.S. State Department intelligence report states that another source, whose identity is redacted, concluded that about 1,500 Taliban prisoners died. Estimates from other witnesses or human rights groups range from several hundred to several thousand. The report also says that several Afghan witnesses were later tortured or killed." Dostum claimed only 200 were killed. There was satellite evidence that mass graves had been dug up and moved as well as eyewitness statements by survivors. Ultimately no formal investigation was conducted and an official website of General Dostum http://generaldostum.com/2010/01/25/post-title-5/ lays out an accurate timeline of events refuting many of the numbers. The foundation of the controversy lay in confusion in estimating the number of Taliban that possibly joined the Northern Alliance or simply returned to their villages after the Kunduz surrender.