President Ashraf Ghani on Monday met First Vice President Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum in Kabul where the two officials exchanged views on a number of key issues pertaining to the country.
“Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the first vice president, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah today (Monday) where they exchanged views on various topics relating to the country,” the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
Monday's meeting marked the first high level meeting between the four leaders of the National Unity Government in the past thirteen months.
Dostum left the country thirteen months ago and was based in Turkey, apparently for medical treatment. He returned to Afghanistan just over a week ago.
Dostum’s Plane Diverts To Ashgabat
In July 2017, reports surfaced in the media that aviation authorities refused to allow Dostum’s plane to land at Mazar-e-Sharif airport, in Balkh province and instead directed it to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The plane however returned to Turkey.
This incident occurred a week after Afghanistan’s Attorney General Office (AGO) confirmed the case against Dostum had been handed over to court. Dostum had been accused of kidnapping and ordering the alleged sexual assault against his rival Ahmad Eshchi last year.
Charges were brought against Dostum after claims were lodged by Eshchi last year that he had been kidnapped, raped and tortured by Dostum’s guards but on the orders of the first vice president.
Dostum’s case was met with mixed reaction among members of the Afghan public and political groups and also sparked reaction on an international level.
Former US ambassador to Afghanistan Hugo Llorens was one of those who stated at the time that charges of sexual abuse and assault against Dostum “are very serious” and called on Afghanistan’s legal and judicial institutions to investigate the matter “in a fair and transparent manner”.
Eshchi says case politicized
But Ahmad Eshchi, who claims to have been sexually abused by Dostum’s guards, says he is concerned about the “discriminatory approach” to his case by judicial organizations.
“This case has been politicized. He [Dostum] has not been suspended. Attorneys (AGO) have been pressurized. This is a discriminatory act,” Eshchi said.
On July 2, the situation took another turn and Nizamuddin Qaisari, police chief of Qaisar district in Faryab province and a close aide to Dostum, was arrested by Special Forces in Faryab, a move that sparked an even stronger backlash from Dostum supporters in northern regions.
Protestors took to the streets in protest over the arrest and closed provincial offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Maimana city and threatened to boycott the upcoming elections if their demands were not met.
Their main demand, the protestors said at the time, was the return of Dostum to the country and the immediate release of Qaisari.
Government Offices Closed In Jawzjan
Protestors also closed government offices, schools and the Jawzjan-Aqina Highway in Jawzjan province – cutting off imports into the country from Turkmenistan.
The protestors warned they would also disconnect Kabul’s electricity supply, that runs through the province, and close more roads if their demands were not met.
The Dramatic Return
After numerous discussions and meetings between relevant parties Dostum finally returned to Afghanistan eight days ago – a move that was warmly welcomed by his supporters.
However, on Sunday a spokesman for Dostum said the first vice president had still not met Ghani.
Dostum’s spokesman Bashir Ahmad Tayyanj also accused Ghani of not having kept promises made to Dostum – including his request to meet with Qaisari.
In response to Dostum’s issue of not having seen Ghani since his return, the president’s deputy spokesman Shahhussian Murtazavi said on Sunday the president had been extremely busy in the past few days and that a meeting between Ghani and Dostum would take place soon.
Less than a day later this meeting transpired.