Pakistan on Saturday regretted the Afghanistan government’s decision to indefinitely close its consulate in Peshawar over a property dispute.
Afghanistan indefinitely closed its consulate in Peshawar on Friday, protesting the alleged removal of the Afghan flag from Firdous Market in the city. Afghanistan claims sole ownership of the property.
The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said, “Regret the announcement that the Consulate General of Afghanistan in Peshawar has been closed in protest at this point. We hope that this step would be immediately reviewed and that a private legal case would not be allowed to adversely affect the relations between the two brotherly countries.”
The FO regretted that facts about the property in question were being distorted.
The office said the market issue was between a citizen and a bank from Afghanistan and that the case was settled in favour of the Pakistani citizen in 1998.
The FO said Pakistan “rejects any comments casting aspersions on the judicial process in Pakistan.”
“We reject insinuations contained in the statement issued by the Afghan Foreign Ministry regarding a market in Peshawar. It is deeply regrettable that a distorted and misleading account of the issue and related events has been presented,” it said further.
Earlier, Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan Shukrullah Atif Mashal had condemned the Peshawar police’s action of removing the Afghan national flag from the market in an overnight operation.
Mashal said the market is the property of the Afghan government which it owned before partition of India.
However, the Pakistan government maintains that a Pakistani citizen had filed a court case saying the plot had been allotted to him by the government in place of properties he left in India after partition. The Pakistani court had settled the matter in favour of the individual.
Afghan Consul General Muhammad Hashim Niazi said the land mafia was behind the dispute and its motive was to sow discord between the two countries. The Afghan diplomat has urged Islamabad to suspend the court verdict and resolve the issue through dialogue. On October 8, the Peshawar district administration had evicted 180 Afghan shopkeepers from the market and removed the country’s national flag.
Pakistan has played an active role in the Afghanistan peace process. The U.S. has been pushing for a ceasefire or at least securing a commitment from the Taliban to reduce the level of violence in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is trying to convince the Taliban to show flexibility on the issue of ceasefire and holding direct talks with the Afghan government.