Afghan Vice Pres Barred From Entering Pindosia Maxima
Matthew Rosenberg, NYT, Apr 25 2016
FASCHINGSTEIN — As first vice-president of Afghanistan, Abd’ul-Rashid Dostum is the second-ranking official in a country that is almost wholly dependent on Pindo military and financial might, and he is eager to visit Faschingstein to discuss how best to overcome the Taliban. The only problem is that Dostum, who has been accused of war crimes, is not welcome in Pandosia. Dostum’s ascent to the vice presidency of Afghanistan, despite his past, exemplifies a central Pindo failure in a war now in its 15th year. In its effort to defeat the Taliban, Pandosia has built and paid for a government that is filled with warlords and power-brokers who Pindo boxtops say pose as much of a threat to the stability of Afghanistan as the insurgents themselves. So this month, Pindo boxtops found themselves in the unusual position of threatening to deny a visa to the #2 official in a government whose survival depends on the presence of nearly 10,000 Pindo grunts and tens of billions of dollars a year in assistance. The message was passed to the Afghan government days before Dostum was to depart for a trip to New York and Washington, according to multiple Afghan and Pindo boxtops. To avoid a humiliating public spectacle, the Afghan government quickly and quietly canceled Dostum’s visit, they said.
The State Dept would not comment on Monday, saying it could not discuss individual visa cases for privacy reasons. But for years, there has been broad agreement among Pindo boxtops about Dostum, who stands apart for his brutal past even when measured against the alleged crimes and misdeeds of many of the people Pindostan has relied on during the war in Afghanistan. The State Dept has called him “the quintessential warlord.” A former Pindo ambassador to Afghanistan, K Eikenberry, claimed in 2009 that Dostum’s mere presence in Pandosia would “endanger much of the progress made in Afghanistan.” That same year, Ashraf Ghani, who is now Afghanistan’s president, called Dostum a “known killer.” But that was years before Ghani decided that he needed Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, to help secure votes among Uzbeks, one of Afghanistan’s crucial minorities in the 2014 presidential election. Asked about his aborted visit, Dostum said in an interview on Saturday with VoA radio that the tenuous security situation at home had required him to cancel the trip, which was to include an address to a special session of the UNGA on narcotics trafficking, which he has been accused of profiting from). In the interview, which was conducted and broadcast in Dari, Dostum assured listeners that he had many friends in Washington, and that he would tell them how things were in Afghanistan. He said:
I personally intend to visit as soon as the situation here allows. I am well acquainted with our Pentagon friends and congressmen. I want to discuss the situation with them. They have to take this issue seriously, otherwise it might get out of control.
That discussion seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. Dostum’s inability to secure entry to Pandosia is in fact a long-standing issue. In 2013, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who has ‘known’ (CIA contact – RB) Dostum for decades, personally asked Jackass Kerry to grant him a visa. At the time, Rohrabacher said he was seeking to bring Dostum to Washington to discuss the war and the future of the Afghan government. No visa was issued then, and Dostum’s election as vice-president the following year has not changed the Obama administration’s view of him or its willingness to let him visit Pindostan, said two cowardly boxtops. Pindo boxtops do not want to be seen with him, one said. At the outset of the war, Dostum fought alongside Pindo SOF and CIA to oust the Taliban, and he was initially very close to the Pentagon. He had a pistol that he said had been given to him by then-CENTCOM chief Gen T Franks, but he quickly fell out of favour over his defiance of the new government in Kabul. In 2004, the Pentagon flew mock bombing runs over his house with a a B-1 bomber, after his militia seized control of a city in northern Afghanistan from the government.
Obama said in 2009 that his administration would investigate the allegations of war crimes against Dostum, which center on the killings of hundreds of Taliban prisoners by his militia. The killings took place over three days in late 2001. Taliban prisoners were stuffed into shipping containers with no food or water. Many suffocated, according to survivors and witnesses, and others died when guards shot into the containers. All are believed to have been buried in a mass grave in the Dasht-i-Leili desert just outside Shibarghan, Dostum’s head city in northern Afghanistan. The first detailed reports of the killings emerged in early 2002, but Pindo boxtops and human rights groups say the Bush 43 administration discouraged efforts to investigate the deaths. Dostum was on the CIA payroll at the time, and the Bush 43 administration also feared that an investigation would undermine the Afghan government, in which Dostum was by then a defense official. The Obama administration initially appeared to have no such misgivings. Obama told CNN in 2009:
The indications that this had not been properly investigated just recently was brought to my attention. So what I’ve asked my national security team to do is to collect the facts for me that are known, and we’ll probably make a decision in terms of how to approach it once we have all of the facts gathered up.
What became of that investigation remains unclear. The White House referred questions about the inquiry to the State Dept, which did not respond to a query. The Afghan government has never officially investigated the allegations of war crimes against Dostum, or a number of other powerful Afghans who serve in or back the government in Kabul.