By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Afghanistan on Friday reopened its consulate in Peshawar after nearly three months as an Afghan delegation wrapped up talks in Pakistan to settle dispute over the ownership of a marketplace in Peshawar.
The consulate was closed in early October after the Afghan embassy in Islamabad said police in Peshawar removed the Afghan national flag from a market, which Afghanistan says is its property.
First Secretary at the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar Faridoon Haiderkhel said the consulate has resumed visa operations from Friday. Haiderkhel wrote on his Facebook page that the people in Peshawar can now approach the diplomatic mission for visas.
The controversy started after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that a Pakistani citizen, Shaukat Kashmiri, is the owner of the Afghan Market, instructing the authorities to vacate the building and hand it over to Kashmiri.
The local authorities in Peshawar took action against the shopkeepers and also removed Afghanistan’s national flag from the market. Later, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal went to Peshawar and hoisted the flag again which heightened tensions between the two countries.
Afghanistan has reopened its consulate, but Pakistan has yet to reopen the consular section of its embassy in Kabul that was closed on Nov 3 in view of what they called ‘harassment’ of diplomats in the Afghan capital. Pakistani sources in Kabul told media that the consular section is expected to be opened on December 29.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Naheed Esaar on Friday inaugurated Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program for Afghan students. This year, about 1,000 Afghan students will be selected in the fully funded program by the Higher Education Commission, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul said.
Pakistan is offering scholarships to 1,000 Afghan students as part of its Allama Iqbal Scholarship Program. The program was launched at a largely attended function at a hotel in Kabul.
Meanwhile, aptitude/entrance test for the scholarship program for graduate and post-graduate levels started on Friday. Tests will continue until Dec 29 at Pakistan Embassy and at consulate generals of Pakistan in Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sahrif, Herat and Kandahar.
In another development, a 12-member delegation of Pakistani businessmen arrived in Kabul on Friday for meeting with Afghan traders to explore ways for increase in trade and resolves problems in transit trade. Both sides will also discuss economic connectivity projects, Pakistani trader Zia ul Haq Sarhadi told Daily Times from Kabul.