The Balkh provincial council chief on Wednesday rejected as irresponsible parliament’s position on naming a street in the northern province after slain Iranian diplomats.
On Sunday, some Meshrano Jirga members condemned the move as a cultural invasion. A legislator from Balkh, Khaliqdad Balaghi, called the step evidence of Iran’s growing cultural influence in 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 the civil war in the country.
Last week, Balkh Information Director Saleh Mohammad Khaliq said the decision had been taken during an administrative meeting at the governor’s house.
Addressing a joint news briefing with Mayor Mohammad Younus Moqim, Provincial Council head Dr. Afzal Hadid said the criticism from the Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga was misplaced.
He said the lawmakers had accused him, the Balkh governor and mayor of betraying the nation by naming the street after the Iranians. The official saw no valid justification for the parliamentary hard line.
Dr. Hadid added that Iran, besides extending all possible cooperation to Afghanistan during the jihad against the former Soviet Union, had named several roads after Afghan leaders.
Mayor Younus Moqim called the street naming a common practice. “It’s a very small issue that is being blown out of proportion,” he remarked.