ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan temporarily closed its consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad citing “intervention” by the provincial governor and a lack of security, but an Afghan official said Saturday that the issue was a simple misunderstanding and would be resolved shortly.
In a letter to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul requested that the governor of Nangarhar province refrain from “interfering” in the functioning of the consulate.
The Pakistani mission also requested that Afghan authorities restore security on the premises. It said the consulate will remain closed until security arrangements are completed to the embassy’s satisfaction.
Sebghatullah Ahmadi, spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, said there was a misunderstanding which caused concern among staff at the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. He did not elaborate.
“We have already held meetings with Pakistani officials from their embassy in Kabul. Soon the problem will be solved,” he said.
The governor of the eastern Nangarhar province, Hayatullah Hayat, said in a statement that he hadn’t intervened into Pakistan’s consulate affairs in Jalalabad. He went on to add, however, that the procedures to obtain a visa must be organized and with no corruption involved.
Hayat said that every day thousands of Afghans gather in front of the Pakistani consulate, some paying 5000 to 20,000 rupees (around $40 to $160) to get a visa, and are getting beaten, among other offences.
“Any disrespect to Afghans can’t be accepted,” Hayat said adding “Providing security, organizing people and avoiding corruption outside the consulate are our duties. We won’t let anyone abuse the dignity of Afghans.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond the governor’s remarks.
The closure of the Jalalabad mission is a reflection of strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both blame each other of harboring militants along the porous border.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.