“The more I think the more I am convinced that you have been the worst Foreign Secretary ever,” Basit wrote in the letter, a copy of which has been circulating on social media. Sources in the Foreign Office confirmed that the letter is authentic.
The former envoy to India, who was replaced after opting for an early retirement earlier this month by Sohail Mahmood, had written the acerbic letter in response to Chaudhry’s farewell letter which he wrote after being appointed the ambassador to United States.
Basit also expressed concern in his letter that Chaudhry would end up being “the worst Pakistan Ambassador in Washington D.C”.
The ex-ambassador then went on to list the reasons behind his critique of Chaudhry: while alleging that Chaudhry was not made for the “delicate profession of diplomacy”, Basit cited two incidents as example — the joint statement issued after a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa between ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in 2015, and Pakistan’s failure to get re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).
The Ufa joint statement had been criticised at the time for being the first prime minister-level joint statement in which Kashmir was not specifically mentioned. Later in 2015, Pakistan suffered diplomatic humiliation after losing in a bid for re-election to the UN HRC, forcing the Foreign Office to do some introspection and look for the causes.The defeat was shocking because it was the first time that Pakistan had lost a major election at the UN.
Secondly, Basit wrote in the letter, “it is more worrisome [that], your heart is not in the right place”.
The former ambassador said it was in Pakistan’s interest that Chaudhry is removed from his post as the envoy to US. Failing that, he said, Chaudhry should not be given an extension beyond his superannuation in 2018.
“May God help Pakistan when people like you […] are at such important positions,” Basit said.
Aizaz Chaudhry: a seasoned diplomat
Chaudhry’s career as a foreign service officer spans 36 years of multilateral and bilateral experience.
Before being appointed ambassador to the US, Chaudhry had been serving as Pakistan’s foreign secretary since December 2013. He has also served as the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as additional foreign secretary for the United Nations and Disarmament Affairs, and director general of relations with South Asian countries, during which he remained closely associated with the peace process in India.
Chaudhry’s other overseas assignments include being Pakistan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN in New York and an ambassador to the Netherlands.
Who is Abdul Basit?
Before he was appointed the high commissioner to India in February, 2014, Basit served as the ambassador to Germany.
Later, he had been tipped to succeed former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani as the head of the diplomatic service. However, the PML-N government changed its plans at the last minute and instead made him the high commissioner to India, another very important diplomatic assignment in the Foreign Service.
Basit joined the Foreign Service in 1982 and has held various assignments at the headquarters and in Pakistan missions in Moscow, New York, Sana’a, Geneva and London.