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    Senate blasts naming Balkh street after Iranians

    KABUL (PAN): Some Meshrano Jirga members on Sunday condemned as cultural invasion naming a street in northern Balkh province after slain Iranian diplomats.

    Last week, authorities in Balkh announced naming a street in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, after seven Iranian diplomats who were killed during the Taliban regime. The street, southeast of the city, had an Iranian consulate at that time.

    A legislator from Balkh, Khaliqdad Balaghi, said the move was a clear evidence of Iran’s cultural invasion against Afghanistan.

    “We strongly condemn naming the street after Iranians,” the senator said, claiming the slain Iranians were not diplomats, but spies who had been involved in fueling civil war in the country.

    He suspected the move might have been a result of a covert deal between local officials and Iran. Balaghi asked the Ministry of Information and Culture to investigate the matter.

    Balkh Information and Culture Department Director Saleh Mohammad Khaliq last week said the decision was taken during an administrative meeting at the governor’s house.

    The governor’s spokesman Munir Farhad said the decision was aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan. He said Iran had named a street in Tehran after Ahmad Shah Massoud.

    A lawmaker from Balkh, Mohammad Daud Hassas said he condemned the move as an unfortunate incident. “This is unfortunate that we are honouring the individuals who tried to divide Afghans and sow hatred among them,” he said. He said naming the street meant it was sold out to Iranians.

    Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar also said the matter should be investigated. He tasked the house’s cultural affairs panel with probing the issue and presenting its findings to the house.