The federal government hints at intentions to name a road in Islamabad after Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, twenty-one years after his assassination.
Sources in the federal government said recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had taken up the plan with the Ministry of Interior, which is the line ministry of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
The sources said in February this year Ahmed Wali Massoud, a brother of the late Afghan leader, had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to name a street in Islamabad after Ahmed Shah Massoud. The prime minister had agreed to consider the request.
Subsequently, the foreign secretary through an official letter asked the interior ministry to get CDA’s input before moving a summary to the prime minister for final approval.
The interior ministry last month sought CDA’s comments on the summary.
Ahmed Shah Massoud, also known as the ‘Lion of Panjshir’ resided in Pakistan during the Soviet war, and his father is also buried in Peshawar which is a reflection of his close links with Pakistan, the sources said.
He is held in the highest esteem among Afghan leadership for his resistance to the Soviet invasion in the 80s. Later, he also served as Minister of Defence of Afghanistan.
The sources said various states had acknowledged Ahmed Shah Masoud’s contribution to Afghanistan. France honored him with a plaque in Paris last year while San Diego declared September 9, 2020, as Ahmed Shah Massoud day.
When contacted, CDA member planning Naveed Ilahi said as per the existing policy roads/streets can be named only after the foreign head of states.
He confirmed that the Ministry of Interior had sought CDA’s comments for naming a street/road after Ahmed Shah Massoud.
“A road can only be named after the head of states of foreign countries. We are looking into the case of Ahmed Shah and will inform the government about our existing rules. We will follow whatever direction comes from the government.”He said.
The sources said so far the federal government had named four roads after head of states of foreign countries – Faisal Avenue after former Saudi king Shah Faisal, Attaturk Avenue after Turkish hero Mustafa Kemal Ataturk; roads were also named after Chinese leader Zhou Enlai and former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
“Ahmed Shah Massoud was a brave Muslim commander and had great links with Pakistan. We want to name a road in the capital city after him to pay homage to his resistance.”A federal government source said.
Asked about the rules of CDA, he said: “Rules can be amended that is not a big deal for the government,” adding Pakistan had respect for all ethnic communities of Afghanistan, therefore, the government wanted to name a road after the slain Afghan commander and leader.