KABUL — For 30 years, Gen. Abdurrashid Dostum has reigned as northern Afghanistan’s untouchable warrior-king: first as a ruthless pro-communist general, later as an armed U.S. ally against the Taliban and finally as a reliable, if unsavory, political boss who could deliver votes from his ethnic Uzbek followers.
Dostum has long been infamous for his cruelty: He has reportedly ordered tanks driven over enemies’ legs and been accused of suffocating hundreds of Taliban prisoners in sealed truck containers. He is also known for violent and abusive rages. But none of the accusations ever landed him in serious trouble. He was either too intimidating, or too important, to challenge.
But now, Dostum may have gone too far.
His latest alleged victim, a 63-year-old former provincial governor named Ahmad Ishchi, has accused Dostum on television of imprisoning him, beating him and ordering him raped in November; Ishchi has also submitted to medical tests at a U.S. military hospital. This time, Dostum, 62, is not a warlord but the first vice president of a government backed by the United States and Europe — a heartbeat away from replacing President Ashraf Ghani.