Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's reported suggestion that an interim government in Afghanistan could help smooth the US-Taliban talks process has sparked a high-level diplomatic row on Twitter.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US appear to be locked in another war of words following reported remarks from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan suggesting setting up of an interim government in the war-ravaged country.
Khan, last week, also told reporters that Afghan Taliban wanted to meet him but he cancelled the meeting on Kabul's protest.
Despite clarification by Khan that his remarks were quoted out of context, Kabul and Washington continue to criticise Islamabad saying the "suggestion" is tantamount to interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.
Afghanistan called back its ambassador to Pakistan on Tuesday for "consultation" over Pakistani premier's remarks.
This was followed by a tweet by US special envoy on Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad dubbing the comment inappropriate.
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 fresh diplomatic row erupted days before Khalilzad is set to embark on another journey to the region in connection with Washington's stepped up efforts to find a negotiated settlement to a bloody conflict in Afghanistan, which has entered its 18th year.
Also, US envoy to Afghanistan John Bass, in a tweet, asked Pakistan's cricketer-turned premier "not to ball-tamper with Afghanistan's peace process and its internal affairs".
Some aspects of #cricket apply well in diplomacy, some do not. @ImranKhanPTI, important to resist temptation to ball-tamper with the #Afghanistan peace process and its internal affairs. #AfgPeace— John R. Bass (@USAmbKabul) March 27, 2019
Ball-tampering - a strictly prohibited and punishable act in cricket - means to change the ball shape by using nails or any other object to bowl out the batsman.
Pakistani officials took no time to respond to the US diplomat.
Finance Minister Asad Umar, in a tweet, challenged , Bass' knowledge about cricket - the most popular sport in South Asia.
"Your tweet shows you neither understand cricket nor diplomacy. With Afghan peace process at such a critical juncture, hope the U.S will be able to find better diplomatic skills to deal with the delicate issue at hand," Umar said.
Your tweet shows you understand neither cricket nor diplomacy. With the afghan peace process at such a critical juncture hope the US will be able to find better diplomatic skills to deal with the delicate issues at hand. https://t.co/9iYWfOF92U— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) March 27, 2019
Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, also responded to Bass in a tweet
"Clearly you little pygmy your knowledge of ball tampering is as void as your understanding of Afghanistan and the region! Clearly in you r case ignorance is certainly not bliss! Another sign of Trumpian mischief a la Khalilzad style!" she wrote, referring to the US envoy leading the peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad.
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
You shd focus on your President's tendency of violating int law and UN resolutions to satisfy Israel's list for annexing territory. He really needs to resist temptation of unilateralism & muscle flexing. As for Afghan peace process Zal & US were getting nowhere till PMIK helped https://t.co/ZOySvWJNDq— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 27, 2019
When the Twitterverse accused her of violating diplomatic norms, she doubled down.
"Haha! Haters gonna hate! But seriously what diplomatic norms? US dips have been violating them all day today from Zalmay to this moron!" she wrote in response to one critic.
Haha! Haters gonna hate! But seriously what diplomatic norms? US dips have been violating them all day today from Zalmay to this moron! https://t.co/7iQKgRTVPv— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 27, 2019
This comes as the Taliban and the US are set to resume talks next month in Doha, Qatar.
The Afghan government is increasingly feeling to be sidelined in this negotiation table. The Taliban are not willing to talk with the Afghan government, resulting in a stalemate.