Afghanistan’s First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum left the country in mid-May, ostensibly for medical treatment in Turkey. But there was another reason Dostum didn’t want to be in Afghanistan. Ahmad Ishchi, the former governor of Jowzjan and often described as Dostum’s political rival, accused the vice president of kidnapping, torture, and rape in December 2016, after Ishchi was reportedly beaten up and detained by Dostum and his men at a buzkashi match.
The bizarre incident, spurned on by Ishchi’s very public accusations and Dostum’s warlord reputation, led to domestic and international calls for a thorough investigation. In Kabul’s desperate search for even the semblance of rule of law, the government promised to deliver.
One Afghan MP, Abdul Raouf Enami, put the issue’s importance well back in December: “This is a sensitive issue and it is better for both sides that the issue should be probed by judicial centers without any interference… The allegations made against Dostum bring Afghanistan’s reputation into question. If these are wrong, Dostum’s reputation should be restored but if they proven to be true, government’s legitimacy will decrease.”
Dostum’s sudden departure for Turkey — stated as being for “medical tests” — was viewed by many as preemptive exile, possibly stemming from a secret deal with the government to allow him to avoid prosecution. While Dostum has been under pressure and now abroad for nearly 2 months, he’s technically retained his position within the government which places him first in line should some ill fate befall President Ashraf Ghani.