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Abdul Basit’s letter criticising Pakistan envoy to US emerges online

Abdul Basit, who was Pakistan’s envoy to India till recently, has strongly criticised Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry for his actions as foreign secretary and envoy to the US.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2017 20:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan Foreign Office,Abdul Basit,Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry
File photo of Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry (right) waving as he walks with former high commissioner Abdul Basit as he emerges from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on April 26, 2016. (AFP)

Pakistan’s former ambassador to India, Abdul Basit, has described the country’s envoy to the US, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, as the “worst foreign secretary ever” in a scathing letter that has been widely shared on social media.

The letter listed several reasons why Chaudhry was “not made for the delicate profession of diplomacy”, including the joint statement issued by India and Pakistan after a 2015 meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then premier Nawaz Sharif at Ufa, Russia, that referred to an agreement on the national security advisers of the two sides discussing “all issues connected to terrorism” but contained no reference to the Kashmir issue.

Basit, who opted for early retirement and was replaced in New Delhi by Sohail Mahmood, has been silent on the letter since it began circulating on social media on Monday. The influential Dawn newspaper quoted its sources in the Foreign Office as saying that the letter is genuine.

Basit and Chaudhry share some history – in December 2013, Basit was widely tipped to become the foreign secretary when the government chose Chaudhry for the post at the last minute. At the time, Basit was the envoy to Germany and had even returned to Pakistan in anticipation of being appointed to the post.

In February this year, the government picked Basit’s junior Tehmina Janjua as the country’s first woman foreign secretary even though Basit had again been tipped for the post. At the same time, Chaudhry was named Pakistan’s envoy to the US.

File photo of foreign secretary S Jaishankar with Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and former high commissioner Abdul Basit emerging from a meeting at the external affairs ministry in New Delhi on April 26, 2016. ( HT Photo )

In the letter purportedly written from New Delhi on July 5 this year, Basit was reacting to a farewell letter sent by Chaudhry in March.

“The more I think the more I am convinced that you have been the worst Foreign Secretary ever. My concern is that you would also end up being the worst Pakistan Ambassador in Washington DC,” Basit wrote.

Screengrab of the letter purportedly written by Pakistan’s former envoy to India, Abdul Basit, criticising the country’s former foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. ( Twitter )

Basit wrote he could “cite many examples” to back up his contention that Chaudhry was “not made for the delicate profession of diplomacy”, though the “Ufa Joint Statement and Pakistan’s humilating 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 this regard, the less said the better,” the letter added.

The letter called for Chaudhry to be immediately removed as the ambassador to the US “in Pakistan’s interest”. It added, “If not so, you should not be given extension beyond your superannuation on 27 February 2018. May Allah help Pakistan when people like you with weak and dubious credentials are at such important positions.”

The Ufa joint statement was widely criticised within Pakistan for containing no reference to the Kashmir issue. In 2015, Pakistan’s Foreign Office faced criticism after losing a bid to be re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council.

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 17:20 IST