Afghanistan closes Peshawar consulate to protest staff harassment

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Islamabad, June 1 (IANS) Afghanistan has closed its consulate in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar in protest over alleged harassment by Pakistani security forces, it was reported on Wednesday.

“The consulate will remain closed for an indefinite period of time. We want a concrete assurance from the host country that Afghan diplomats will not be harassed in the future,” a source in the consulate told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Asked for comment, a senior security official in Peshawar claimed that a diplomat’s vehicle violated the specified diplomatic protocol. “And that’s why the car was stopped for a security check,” he argued, insisting that harassment of the consul-general who was inside the vehicle was never intended.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria has said he was aware of the incident and that the ministry will issue an official statement after obtaining all the relevant information from the concerned quarters.

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There have been testy exchanges between the two nations in recent months, including the closure of their common border at Torkham for three days. However, the frontier was reopened after talks between Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal.

On May 31, the Pakistani authorities asked Afghan nationals not to travel without valid travel documents as Islamabad was yet to consider their request for relaxation at Torkham border.

The border officials made the announcement in this regard over loudspeakers near the Torkham border on Tuesday.

The Afghan nationals were told that they would not be allowed to enter Pakistan without a visa. Those who try to enter Pakistan illegally would be detained and prosecuted, the announcement said.

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