PESHAWAR— Afghanistan diplomats on Friday shut down its consulate in Peshawar as protest against removal of Afghan national flag and forcible occupation of the historic Afghan Market in the provincial capital.
Expressing reservation over the incident in a hurriedly called press conference, Afghan Consul General Mohammad Hashim Niazi said that it is not a dispute between individuals but is a matter between the two countries, therefore, it should be settled through diplomatic ways.
He said that they had already warned that if Afghanistan national flag replaced by Pakistan national flag on Afghan Market again, they will shut down its consulate in Peshawar.
The Afghan Embassy in Islamabad, meanwhile, alleged that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government has made “unilateral decision” regarding the long-standing dispute over the market’s ownership.
The government in 1989 allotted an area of more than 21 kanal to a person who migrated from Kashmir in according to 1958 law. And in the light of such allotment, Supreme Court of Pakistan made verdict in favour of the allottee. Whereas the Afghan government through its diplomatic missions alleged that prior to allotment of the land to Shaukat Jamal Kashmiri no any notice was issued to them. The Afghan government is claiming ownership of this market since 1946.
In connection with a court order, the operation was conducted under the supervision of high officials of district administration a few days later while the police were also present on the site to maintain law and order.
The city authorities removed the Afghan flag and proprietorship board from the market that had existed for decades. Although an official of the Afghan consulate reached the site and claimed that the market was the property of the Afghan government and pleaded not to seal it, the operation continued.
After the operation, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal had visited market and hoisted Afghan flag again there removed by the district administration. In his media talks, he warned that consulate in Peshawar will be closed if the flag removed again.
The Consul General Niazi said Pakistan must find a solution to the problem by using diplomatic channels. He said such acts should have been avoided at a time when situation is already sensitive.
Kabul claimed the Afghan Market is a property of Afghanistan’s national bank.