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Dostum awarded top military rank

Dostum extols for his role in breaking political impasses

Ghani-Abdullah called to put differences aside and get united as country is in “critical condition”

AT News

KABUL: Abdul Rashid Dostum was given the highest military rank in a grand gathering of his fans and supporters, after waiting for months.

The ceremony was held on Wednesday in Jawzjan province, Dostum’s birthplace in the northwest, where he enjoys a strong support. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the reconciliation council awarded Dostum with the marshal rank.

Abdullah said that no excuse is left to start the intra-Afghan negotiations. “Since the ground for talks has been paved, I am sure the process of prisoner release will be completed,” Abdullah said.

There must not be any excuse for the Afghan-to-Afghan talks, Abdullah hoped for achieving durable peace through negotiations.

Shaker Kargar, presidential office’s chief of staff, read a message from President Ashraf Ghani. “The rank of marshal has been granted to Mr. Dostum to appreciate his services in resolving of political impasses and providing stability in the country,” the message read.

Dostum is the third recipient of marshal rank in the history of Afghanistan’s military.

He said in a speech to his supporters that the marshal rank belonged to the people of Afghanistan, adding that he was obliged to his soldiers and comrades.

Dostum warned that the country was in a critical political and military situation, calling on President Ghani and his electoral rival Abdullah to put differences aside and get united.

He also asked the government to release all Taliban prisoners so that the militants have no excuses to continue fighting.

Dostum supported Ghani in 2014 presidential polls and became first vice president. But he was forced to an exile in Turkey after he was accused of kidnapping and torturing a political rival in 2016. Dostum returned home in 2018 after his supporters demonstrated in his favor in the northern provinces.

In his speech, Dostum asked Ghani to give him the war responsibility to defeat Taliban in the battlefield. “We support peace, but if not possible, Dr. Ghani is responsible. If he lets me, I will defeat Taliban. If I couldn’t, this historical responsibility will be on my shoulders.”

He also called on the United States not to hurry in Afghan withdrawal.

The rank of marshal to Dostum was part of a political deal between Ghani and Abdullah since Dsotum backed Abdullah in last year’s presidential contest.

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