A dispute erupted on Twitter this week between rival neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan over U.S.-led peace talks with the Taliban, prompting the Pakistani minister for human rights to dismiss the American ambassador in Kabul as “little pigmy.”
The comments from Shireen Mazari, the minister, came after U.S. Ambassador John Bass rebuked Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly suggesting on Monday that Afghanistan should set up an interim government to help expedite the U.S.-Taliban negotiations.
Referring to Khan’s remarks, which the Pakistani Foreign Ministry claims were taken out of context, Gandhara, a component of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) noted, “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.”
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry argued that news outlets reported Khan’s comments “out of context…leading to [an] unwarranted reaction from various quarters.”
Nevertheless, Bass condemned Khan on Twitter, reportedly writing, “Some aspects of cricket apply well in diplomacy, some do not.”
Bass went on to urge the Pakistani leader to “resist [the] temptation to ball-tamper with the Afghanistan peace process and its internal affairs.”
— John R. Bass (@USAmbKabul) March 27, 2019
Those comments triggered a response on Twitter from Pakistani Minister Mazari, who wrote, “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”:
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! Another sign of Trumpian mischief a la Khalilzad style! https://t.co/ZOySvWJNDq
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 27, 2019
Referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s top Afghan reconciliation envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, the Pakistani minister then said Bass’s comments are yet “another sign of Trumpian mischief a la Khalilzad style!”
Khalilzad also blasted Pakistani PM Khan for his comments on Twitter.
While #Pakistan has made constructive contributions on the #AfghanPeaceProcess, PM Khan's comments did not. The future of #Afghanistan is for #Afghans, and only Afghans, to decide. The role of the international community is to encourage Afghans to come together so they can do so.
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) March 26, 2019
The dispute came as Khalilzad, the chief U.S. official leading the negotiators with the Taliban, heads back to the region as “part of the overall effort to facilitate a peace process that brings all Afghan parties together in inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations,” according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
DOS oversees the office of Khalilzad who has held several rounds of peace negotiations with the Taliban. The latest round led to two draft agreements — the eventual withdrawal of U.S. military troops and assurances by the Taliban that Afghanistan will not harbor international terrorists again as it did with al-Qaeda both before and after the September 11 attacks on the American homeland.
So far, ongoing peace negotiations have excluded Kabul at the Taliban’s behest, irking Kabul. Taliban terrorists, who are fighting to implement strict Islamic laws or Sharia, consider themselves the only legitimate government of Afghanistan, dismissing the Ghani administration as a U.S. “puppet.”
The recent Afghanistan-Pakistan rift marks the “third time in just over a month that Kabul has demanded an explanation from Islamabad over comments related to peace talks aimed at ending 17 years of war in Afghanistan,” NDTV reported.
President Trump has made the negotiated political reconciliation of Kabul and the Taliban the primary tenet of his strategy to end the nearly 18-year-old war.
The Taliban claims it will only talk to Kabul after the full withdrawal of foreign forces, rejecting U.S. proposals to keep a residual military force to ensure the terrorist group keeps its promises.