People and Power - Return of the Warlords
People & Power

Return of the warlords

What does the return of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlord mean for Afghan democracy?

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US military commanders have released a series of reports and recommendations in recent weeks on Afghanistan, and their conclusions have been sobering.

General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, has stated that success in the fight against the Taliban cannot be taken for granted, advising the White House that more troops and a new strategy are needed to turn the tide.

While the US and Nato face their highest casualty rates of the conflict, widespread fraud in the recent presidential election has raised questions about just what kind of political system US and Nato troops are dying to protect.

In the midst of these military and political crises, Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s most notorious warlord, who has been a powerful player in the country’s politics for three decades, returned to the country.

General Dostum had been living in exile in Turkey for nine months because of ongoing criminal and human rights investigations against him. However, he was invited back into the country by Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, two days before this year’s presidential election to take a prominent role in Karzai’s election campaign.

Karzai hails his warlord allies as national heroes, but what does their return to political prominence mean for Afghan democracy?
In the run up to the election, American filmmakers Rick Rowley and Jason Motlagh travelled to Dostum’s stronghold in northern Afghanistan to get the first TV interview with him since his return.

This episode of People & Power airs from Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 0600, 1230; Thursday: 0130, 1400, 1930; Friday: 0630, 1630; Saturday: 0330, 2030; Sunday: 0030, 0530; Monday: 0830.