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Pakistani Minister Calls U.S. Kabul Ambassador 'Little Pygmy' In Twitter Rift

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass (file photo)
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass (file photo)

A Pakistani minister on March 27 branded the U.S. ambassador to Kabul a "little pygmy" in a Twitter dispute that erupted over the peace talks between Washington and the Afghan Taliban to end nearly 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

The rift comes as Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief U.S. negotiator in discussions with the Taliban, is heading back to the region.

Khalilzad has held several rounds of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has complained it is being left out of the negotiations, with the Taliban refusing to negotiate with what they consider "a U.S. puppet."

During a briefing with local journalists on March 25, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly suggested that Afghanistan should set up an interim government to help smooth the talks between U.S. and Taliban negotiators.

The comments caused uproar in Afghanistan, which on March 26 recalled its Islamabad ambassador and summoned Pakistan's deputy ambassador to Kabul to discuss what a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman called the "irresponsible" remarks by Khan.

Khalilzad weighed in on Kabul's side, tweeting that while Pakistan had made "constructive contributions" to the Afghan peace process, "Khan's comments did not."

'Unwarranted Reaction'

In a statement on March 27, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that Khan's comments had been "reported out of context in the media, leading to unwarranted reaction from various quarters."

But shortly afterward, the U.S ambassador to Afghanistan issued a tweet rebuking Khan while alluding to his past as captain of Pakistan's national cricket team and cheating scandals in the sport involving Pakistani players.

"Some aspects of cricket apply well in diplomacy, some do not," John Bass wrote, urging the Pakistani prime minister to "resist temptation to ball-tamper with the Afghanistan peace process and its internal affairs."

The Pakistani minister for human rights, Shireen Mazari, tweeted in response: "Clearly you little pygmy your knowledge of ball tampering is as void as your understanding of Afghanistan and the region! Clearly in your case ignorance is certainly not bliss!”

Mazari called Bass's comments "another sign of Trumpian mischief a la Khalilzad style!"

The State Department has said that Khalilzad's March 25-April 10 trip to Afghanistan, Britain, Belgium, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Jordan, and Qatar was "part of the overall effort to facilitate a peace process that brings all Afghan parties together in inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations."

With reporting by AFP