Islamabad: The internal squabbles within the Pakistani diplomatic establishment over India got exposed on Tuesday when an official letter sent by Islamabad’s former high commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, surfaced online, describing Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, as “the worst foreign secretary ever”.
Basit wrote that he believes Chaudhry, who as foreign secretary was once Basit’s boss, should be sacked from his Washington DC posting.
In his bristling and bilious missive, Basit, known for his proximity to Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, wrote: “The more I think, the more I am convinced that you have been the worst foreign secretary ever.”
He added, “I can cite many examples, the Ufa joint statement and Pakistan’s humiliating defeat at the Human Rights Council are sufficient to prove my point. Second, and it is more worrisome, your heart is not in the right place.”
In July 2015, foreign secretary S Jaishankar and his then Pakistan counterpart Chaudhry had issued a joint statement in the Russian city of Ufa after a bilateral meeting between PMs Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif.
The 2015 statement by foreign secretary S Jaishankar and his then Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry had condemned terrorism in all its forms and both countries agreed to cooperate “to eliminate the menace of terrorism from South Asia”.
Basit’s letter reveals the deep civilian-military cleavage in Pakistan over its India policy. The other reference in Basit’s letter was about Pakistan losing its bid for re-election to the UN Human Rights Council in October 2015. “I strongly feel that it is in Pakistan’s interest that you should immediately be removed from Washington DC,” Basit wrote to Chaudhry.
“If not so, you should not be given extension beyond your superannuation on February 27, 2018. May Allah help Pakistan when people like you with weak and dubious credentials are at such important positions,” Basit concluded.
The copy of the letter was also forwarded to the director of the foreign secretary’s office, ministry of foreign affairs.
Chaudhry was Pakistan’s foreign secretary from December 2013 until February 2017, when he was appointed as US ambassador. Basit wrote the letter when he was still the high commissioner in New Delhi and issued it in reference with Chaudhry’s valedictory letter of March 12, 2017, as foreign secretary.
Basit despatched the letter on July 25, the day the Sharif government accepted his request to quit service prematurely.
Though Basit was to retire in April 2018, he sought early relief after he was passed over for the foreign secretary’s post by Tehmina Janjua in February this year, diplomatic sources said.
Basit’s contemptuous letter against a fellow diplomat is not unprecedented. Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, too was unceremoniously removed in 2008 on the perception that he was not protective of Pakistan’s interests. “Clearly, Basit gave vent to his anger against his colleague before leaving office,” an official source said. Basit wrote that Chaudhary “would also end up being the worst Pakistan ambassador in Washington DC. The reasons are simple. You are not made for the delicate profession of diplomacy”.