ISLAMABAD -  Former Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s scathing attack on his former boss Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry is a ‘personal matter’ and does not warrant intervention by the foreign ministry, officials here said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry said the two diplomats may have ‘personal grudges’ prompting Basit to write such a harsh letter to Aizaz Chaudhry, the incumbent Pakistan ambassador to the United States.

“The whole world knows that Basit was a candidate for the foreign secretary’s slot. He was superseded and might be blaming Chaudhry for whatever has happened,” an official at the ministry told The Nation, confirming the authenticity of the letter.

He said the letter was written when Basit was still the High Commissioner to India “so he used the official letterhead” but it was a ‘personal’ message which was also marked to the ministry.  

In the letter, Basit called Chaudhry the worst foreign secretary ever. The letter allegedly written by Abdul Basit to Chaudhry, on July 5, 2017 criticised Chaudhry’s policies and predicted that he would also prove to be the worst ambassador to the US.

The letter surfaced online and the foreign ministry officials later confirmed that it was authentic. “The more I think the more I am convinced that you have been the worst Foreign Secretary ever,” he wrote in the letter.

Another official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Basit himself had not leaked the letter to the media. “Basit would have leaked it after he wrote it. He did not do it but might have used some friends to leak it to the media,” the official said.

He said the foreign secretary could be the last person to intervene as she also does not enjoy good ties with the disgruntled diplomat. “Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry has not responded officially. He might have ‘thanked’ him for the letter personally,” the official quipped.

Basit was replaced after opting for an early retirement earlier this month by Sohail Mahmood in India had allegedly written the letter in response to Chaudhry's farewell letter after his appointment as the ambassador to US.

The former envoy contended that Chaudhry was not made for the ‘delicate profession of diplomacy’.

He 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.

Basit wrote in the letter: “It is more worrisome your heart is not in the right place.” The former envoy said it was in Pakistan's interest 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. The former High Commissioner to India himself was not available for comments.

Before he was appointed the high commissioner to India in February 2014, Basit served as the ambassador to Germany. He was expected to succeed former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani as the head of the diplomatic service but the government changed its plans.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 and held various assignments at the headquarters and in Pakistan missions in Moscow, New York, Sana’a, Geneva and London.

Chaudhry is also a career diplomat with more than 36 years service. Before his appointment as ambassador to the US, Chaudhry was Pakistan's foreign secretary. He also served previously as the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.

Chaudhry’s other overseas assignments include being Pakistan's deputy permanent representative to the UN in New York and an ambassador to the Netherlands.

Last month then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved early retirement request by Abdul Basit as the senior diplomat ostensibly was not ready to work under his junior - Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua - who was elevated to the top bureaucratic slot in March.

Basit never gave any reason for early retirement but it was evident he was annoyed over the government’s decision to supersede him.

He was among the favourite candidates for the foreign secretary’s slot but Janjua had always been the front runner. After Janjua was picked by the government, Basit had tried to quit but was asked to continue until a replacement in India was announced. Originally, Basit should have retired in April 2018.

Sources said Basit was offered a senior slot in the foreign ministry but he declined to accept citing ‘personal reasons.’