| ||MPs oppose naming Balkh road after Iranians|
By Abasin Zaheer
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KABUL - The Meshrano Jirga — upper house of parliament — on Tuesday decided against naming a road in northern Balkh province after slain Iranian diplomats, asking the information minister to brief MPs on the subject.
Nearly a month ago, an administrative meeting at the Balkh governor’s house decided to name the road on which the Iranian consulate is located after the diplomats who were killed during Taliban’s rule.
A week earlier, the Senate sent a parliamentary delegation to Balkh province to discuss the matter with local officials. The delegation returned to Kabul on Monday.
A member of the team, Mehmood Danishjo, told the house the decision to name the street after Iranians had been taken to improve diplomatic relations with the neighbouring country.
He said a road in Mashhad, the second largest city in northeastern Iran, had been named after Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani, the slain peace negotiator. Another road in Tehran has been named after Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Tajik jihadi commander.
He said the proposal had not been officially approved as yet and the Ministry of Information and Culture was empowered to approve or reject it.
But a lawmaker from western Farah province, Balqis Roshan, lashed out at the delegation, saying it had not investigated the matter properly. She accused Iran of executing Afghans and aiding Afghan armed groups.
“No one has the right to name the Abu Muslim Khurasani Road after Iranian diplomats. The road is not the property of the Balkh governor,” she remarked.
But Danishjo said the governor alone was not involved in floated the proposal, but the municipality and the provincial information and culture department had jointly taken the decision.
He said the road named after Iranians had 300 metres length and another road having 20 kilometres length had been named after Abu Muslim Khurasani.
Senator Hidayatullah Rehai alleged the Balkh governor had taken the decision under “a deal” with Iranians. Without explaining the deal, he said the governor had betrayed his nation by naming the street after Iranians.
A number of lawmakers held similar views. In the end, Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said the road should not be named after Iranians under any circumstances.
He said if the Ministry of Information and Culture was willing to accept the proposal, it had to consult and convince parliament on the matter. The minister concerned should appear before the house during the upcoming session and brief lawmakers, he ruled.
Muslimyar asked MPs to raise red cards if they opposed the proposal. A majority of the lawmakers did so.
Last month, Information and Culture Minister Syed Makhdoom Rahin told the lower house that his ministry had not been taken into confidence over naming the street after Iranians.