PESHAWAR: A senior Afghan diplomat on Wednesday cautiously responded to a question over the proposed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and suggested that tribal people’s consent be sought before taking a decision on the matter.
“Our government has no reservations over the merger, but the opinion of the people of the area is paramount before taking such a major decision,” said Peshawar-based Afghan consul general Mohammad Moeen Marastial at a news conference at the press club on Wednesday.
When a reporter sought the Afghan government’s stance on the proposed Fata-KP merger, Mr Marastial said the opinion of the people should be taken into consideration before taking major decisions, though Kabul had no reservations over the merger.
The Afghan diplomat’s statement appears to support the stance of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, which also calls for obtaining the consent of the tribal people before the merger. Like the JUI-F, the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) also has serious apprehensions over the merger plan. Giving a statement in the National Assembly last Friday, PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai had warned that it was a “sensitive issue” and Afghanistan could raise objections to any move to change the status of Fata. Mr Marastial said that Iran’s Chabahar port would not affect his country’s trade with Pakistan, adding that Chabahar would facilitate trade among Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states, while the Karachi port would cater to commercial requirements of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The educationist-turned-diplomat Moeen Marastial recently took charge in Peshawar. He replaced Abdul Waheed Poyan who has been posed as consul general in Karachi. Before his assignment in Peshawar, he was associate professor in Kabul University.