Karzai accused of compiling a coalition of 'gangsters and warlords'

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Kabul, June 16 (ANI): President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been accused of completing a coalition of "gangsters and warlords" after rehabilitating a notoriously brutal strongman in a suspected election deal.

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a powerful Uzbek militia leader, once boasted of pulverising thieving soldiers on his tank tracks, while his men were accused of suffocating hundreds of captives by packing them into shipping containers.

He was temporarily suspended from his post as chief of staff to the military's commander-in-chief last year after the alleged kidnap and torture of a political rival.

Since then, he has lived in informal exile in Turkey under a deal in which Karzai's international backers sought to marginalise him from Afghan politics.

However, according to The Telegraph, a day after Gen Dostum's party pledged electoral backing to the president, a statement from Karzai's palace has now stressed the general has full rights and is free to return whenever he wishes.

The addition of Gen Dostum, who leads northern Afghanistan's Uzbek faction, sees Karzai complete a controversial alliance of ethnic strongmen and former warlords for this summer's presidential elections.

Mr Karzai last month defied international diplomats by choosing Mohammad Qasim Fahim, another ex-militia leader, as his running mate.

Western diplomats have complained the continued dominance of men who presided over the country's savage civil war is a serious obstacle to rebuilding the country.arzai's spokesman denied an electoral deal. (ANI)

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