PTI ministers lash out at US envoy over ‘ball-tampering’ remarks


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ministers came to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s defence on Thursday as they took to Twitter to respond to United States Ambassador to Afghanistan John R Bass’ criticism of the premier over his recent remarks on the Afghan peace process.

The US envoy accused the premiere of ‘ball-tampering’ in the Afghan peace process.

“Some aspects of cricket apply well in diplomacy, some do not. Imran Khan, important to resist the temptation to ball-tamper with the Afghanistan peace process and its internal affairs,” he tweeted.

His tweet was in reference to PM Khan’s recent comments on Afghanistan. Talking to reporters, the premier had said that the Afghan peace process “can only be successful if there is a neutral interim government, which can hold free and transparent elections to be participated by all the stakeholders”. Following his comments, Afghanistan recalled its envoy. The Foreign Office (FO) later said that the premier’s comments were taken out of context. “Pakistan has no other interest in Afghanistan but to promote peace through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led political process,” it said in a statement. The prime minister was only referring to “Pakistan’s model, where elections are held under an interim government. The comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs,” the statement added. On Thursday, Afghanistan decided to send its envoy back to Islamabad.

Soon after Bass’ tweet, Finance Minister Asad Umar raised questions over the envoy’s diplomatic skills.

“Your tweet shows you understand neither cricket nor diplomacy,” he said. “With the Afghan peace process at such a critical juncture, [I] hope the US will be able to find better diplomatic skills to deal with the delicate issues at hand.”

Minister of Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi echoed the same, added that Bass would never make the list of “good ambassadors of the US […] with that attitude.”

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari was more upfront in her response. She termed the US ambassador a “little pygmy” and added that his “knowledge of ball-tampering is as void as [his] understanding of Afghanistan and the region!”