Afghanistan Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former warlord whose relationship with current Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani is wobbly at best.
However, in the president's absence — Ghani is at the moment on an official visit to Central Asia — Dostum is technically the acting president of the country. That didn't stop him from roughing up and kidnapping a political opponent in broad daylight.
The incident occurred during the traditional game of “buzkashi” — a sport in which horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf carcass in a goal.
However, in this particular game, Dostum's bodyguards set upon Ahmad Ischi, a former ally and now a rival, abducted him and kept him hostage for more than two days.
Ischi is the country’s Junbish political party with a strong political following in the north of the country.
“Dostum came there, and he walked around the stadium, then he called Ahmad Ishchi over to him... After talking with him for a couple of minutes, he punched him, and his bodyguards started beating him with AK-47s. They beat Ahmad very badly and in a barbaric way,” Gulab Khan, a relative of Ischi, told The New York Times.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the vice president’s palace pleading with him to free Ishchi. But their demands were met only with silence. The guards simply told the protesters that the general was busy or resting.
Lutfullah Azizi, the governor of the province, said he was away from his office on a visit to Kabul, the capital, but was trying to calm the situation.
“I organized the tribal elders and sent them to talk with Gen. Dostum to release Ahmad,” Azizi said. “They are currently meeting Gen. Dostum, and we are emphasizing Ahmad’s release tonight, as he is sick.”
While the Dostum and Ishchi have a long history of not getting along, a senior Afghan official who also spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ishchi had shown some sign of disrespect at a very vulnerable time for the general.
The vice president is known for human rights violations, including war crimes and murder.
He was previously an ally of the United States and worked alongside CIA operatives and Special Ops forces in efforts to oust the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.
However, circumstances have changed since then and Dostum fell out of favor with Washington and was banned from traveling to the U.S.