Uzbek Junbesh-e-Milli (Afghanistan)

Country: Afghanistan
Details of Formation: The group led by Dostum likely existed before 1988 but is reported to be pro-government since 1989, which marks the departure of Soviet troops, under the transitional administration.
Details of Termination: The PGM became anti-government in 1992 when Dostum turned against Najibullah. It became pro-government again after Najibullah was ousted and the new government was appointed on 18 April 1992. When Dostum sided with Hekamatayar’s Hizb-i-Islami in 1993 against Rabbani, the group became pro-government again (cf. Archigos: A Database of Political Leaders). During the Taliban regime from 26 September 1996 it was anti-government again. As part of the Northern Alliance it became pro-government from 22 December 2001 until May 2007. The militia became part of the United National Front (UNF) established in 2007 and became pro-government on 16 June 2009, when President Karzai dropped charges against Dostum and invited him back to Afghanistan from his exile. The group was officially supposed to disarm based on a UN peace deal and to be integrated into a national army and police force under Karzai. But Dostum was reluctant to give up his weapons and withdraw his fighters. A source reports that some members of the group were disarmed and about 400 weapons were given up by the group, but the majority was not. Another report states that members were disarmed in 2007 and Dostum’s power was significantly reduced with his cooptation into government. There were also suggestions to strengthen and rearm the group and other militias to fight the (Taliban) insurgency in the south under the UNF and sources report that this was also the case in practice in 2013. Although it is unclear whether it was armed or not, the militia still existed in 2014 and there were reports of it becoming active again.
Purpose: Initially, the militia was used to support the government with security related tasks and acted as mercenaries for the new government after the end of the Communist government and fought the Mujahideen until 1992, when Dostum allied with the resistance forces. After the end of the Communist government it was used to support the government with security related tasks. In the 1990s it mainly fought the Taliban. As part of the Northern Alliance, it was an instrument for the US to combat terrorism perpetrated by the Taliban and al-Quaeda. Later it was suggested that the PGM should be used to counter insurgents in the south of Afghanistan, even though it was already supposed to have disarmed, and was predominantly intended to counter the Taliban. Dostum also rallied support for Karzai in his electoral campaign, e.g. by holding pro-Karzai rallies.
Organisation: At various points in times, the group’s leader Dostum occupied positions within the government such as military adviser (of security in the north), chief of staff to the commander of the armed forces, and deputy defence minister, all under Karzai. He switched sides several times prior to becoming part of the Northern Alliance. Dostum is said to have held significant power in the northern provinces under his influence. During its time as a member of the Northern Alliance, the PGM also received financial backing from the US/CIA.
Weapons and Training: Based on the weapons handed in as part of the disarmament process, the group was armed with Kalashnikovs and rockets.
Size: During their fight against the Mujahideen the group is estimated to have included about 40,000 members. In 1992 it is reported that there were 75,000 fighters of the militia guarding Kabul. In 2004, when the disarmament process was initiated, a source estimates that the PGM had at least 8,400 members.
Reason for Membership: There is evidence indicating that membership was ethnically motivated, with the group having a mainly Uzbek (the ethnicity of its leader) membership base. This is also supported by the fact that it was used to rally Uzbek support in electoral campaigns for Karzai. Members also looted civilians which is another potential incentive to join the group.
Treatment of Civilians: The leader of the group, Dostum, has been accused of abducting and torturing a political opponent and his militia contributed to an atmosphere of instability as potential initiators of escalating violence (which it for instance threatened to use when Dostum was supposed to be put on trial). The group is said to have exploited its military strength to further its own interests. In their fight against the mujahideen, it is reported that members plundered and looted civilians and destroyed their property. They also boasted about suffocating people by capturing them in shipping containers and, more generally, Human Rights Watch accused the group of abusing and killing civilians.
Other Information: The group’s sources of support changed over time. It received support from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, which matches references to fighting throughout this time for the Soviet side. In 2001 it became part of the Northern Alliance and subsequently was supported by the US. Dostum is a general described as Soviet trained and the group also has a political arm in the form of a party. Reports state that he used the militia to secure his own interests. His appointment as deputy defence minister sparked controversy and he was supposed to be put on trial, although this was thought to have too much of a destabilizing impact. The PGM is often referred to simply as “Uzbek militia” because this is the ethnic group of most members. The militia operated mainly in northern Afghanistan (based in the Jowzjan province) and has been in control of cities such as Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. In 2009, Karzai used the group to rally support of ethnic Uzbeks in his electoral campaign. It is unclear if it is armed in 2013/14 due to inconsistent evidence.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.

Wikipedia. “National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.”

Human Rights Watch. 2016. “Afghanistan: Forces Linked to Vice President Terrorize Villagers, Prosecute Militia Members for Killings.” July 31, 2016.