By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Afghanistan on Friday closed down its consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, after an alleged police raid on long-disputed Afghan Market in the city.
According to an official statement by the country's embassy in Islamabad, the consulate was shut in protest after police raided the Afghan Market in Firdaus neighborhood of the city reportedly claimed by the Afghan authorities as a property of the Afghan government.
This came after a Peshawar court verdict ordering the possession of the market — housing dozens of shops in the city's busy commercial district– to handover to a Pakistani citizen named Shaukat Kashmir.
''Unfortunately, the provincial police in Pakistan raided the market again last night and took down the Afghanistan flag without coordinating with the Embassy. The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly condemns this action and considers it against diplomatic principles and good neighborhood terms'', read the statement published in Pashto.
According to the Express Tribune newspaper of Pakistan, the Peshawar High Court gave its verdict on Wednesday against the Afghan State's claim of ownership over the market.
Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal visited the site and hoisted Afghanistan flag on it on Thursday.
The city authorities have "removed the Afghan flag and proprietorship board" from the market that "had existed for decades", the report said.
For its part, Islamabad described the matter as a purely legal issue over the possession of the property claimed by a private citizen.
"The case for legal possession of the Afghan Market in Peshawar was between a private Pakistani claimant and the Afghan National Bank. The Supreme Court has decided in favor of the private claimant," Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry told reporters.
It is a purely legal matter and action has been taken following court’s order, he added.
Regarding the action of the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Atif Mashal, who hoisted an Afghanistan flag in the Afghan Market on Wednesday, Faisal said: "As regards to any undiplomatic actions, appropriate steps would be taken."