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Kabul losing grip on its Peshawar land worth $50m

Kabul losing grip on its Peshawar land worth $50m

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On
Aug 27, 2019 - 17:05

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan government is losing its grip on a piece of land worth millions of dollars it owns in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Afghan government owns a market known as Afghan Milli Bank built on 1.5 acres of land in Firdaous area of Peshawar city.

According to local people, the land is worth $50 million and many people have built shops there and pay rent to the Afghan Milli Bank.

An official of the Afghan Milli Bank, who declined to be named, told Pajhwok Afghan News that shopkeepers paid them 1,100 to 1,600 Pakistani rupees per shop as monthly rent. “The rent is less but it has saved the land from being grabbed,” the source said.

He said the land belonged to the Afghan government but local people also claimed its ownership.

For the first time, local people claimed the land’s ownership in 1971 but Afghanistan paid no attention to the issue due to decades of war, he said.

The claimant won the case in court in 1989 and then in High Court in 1998 and then in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999, the source said.

“These people are now trying to take possession of this land as soon as possible but the Afghan Milli Bank officials in Peshawar have hired lawyers to appeal the Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict.

The bank official said ordinary Afghans could not win the case and it should be resolved on government level between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has set the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar a one-week deadline to vacate the market or provide documents of the land’s ownership, otherwise the land would become Pakistan’s property permanently.

Pajhwok has obtained a copy of the letter Afghan Milli Bank sent to the bank’s central office in Kabul.

The letter says Pakistani security officials visited shopkeepers in the market and talked with them about vacating the market. A delegation sent by the Afghan Milli Bank was not allowed to enter the venue.

“Shopkeepers were told to leave the land or purchase it against a fair price and promised easy completion of legal matters,” the letter read.

On the other hand, some sources say shopkeepers have decided to buy a portion of the land for shops from the person who had won the land ownership case.

Azizullah, an Afghan trader in Peshawar, said the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar and the Embassy in Islamabad were silent about the issue.

“Afghan diplomats blame the bank for the issue while the bank says it is the government’s responsibility to solve the problem”, he said.

Sibghatullah Ahmadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that no information about the issue had so far been shared with them.

He said the issue was related to the Afghan Milli Bank and the bank should deal with it. “If the bank officials contact Afghan consulate in Peshawar or embassy in Islamabad they would definitely receive cooperation”, he said.

 “If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is provided accurate information, it would take action on time,” he said.

Taj Gul Haqmal, an acquisition official at the Afghan Milli Bank, acknowledged the issue and said they had shared the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, who he said were working on the matter.

He said they had hired defense lawyers in cooperation with the Afghanistan embassy in Pakistan and had lodged a claim to re-investigate the issue from the beginning.

mds/ma

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