Islamabad/Kabul   -  Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari yesterday responded in kind to US ambassador to Kabul John R Bass when he attacked Prime Minister Khan on Twitter.

Late Wednesday, Bass took to ‘schooling’ Khan on diplomacy while accusing him of 'ball-tampering' in the Afghan peace process – drawing a sharp response from Pakistanis.

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

Many wondered how a diplomatic representative could insult the prime minister of a country by accusing him of being a cheat.

Several Pakistani officials, journalists and citizens took the ambassador to task for insulting the premier, however, Ms Mazari was more aggressive in her response.

Terming the US ambassador a "little pygmy", she reprimanded the envoy saying that his "knowledge of ball-tampering is as void as [his] understanding of Afghanistan and the region!"

"Clearly in your case ignorance is certainly not bliss! Another sign of Trumpian mischief a la Khalilzad style!" she added.

The fresh diplomatic spat came on the heels of a controversy caused by Khan’s reported comments suggesting that Afghanistan should have an interim government to facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.

The prime minister’s remarks caused uproar in Afghanistan, with Kabul summoning the Pakistani ambassador on Tuesday. US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad also slammed the premier over his comments.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the prime minister's remarks had been reported "out of context" and were misunderstood as by interim government he meant the kind of inclusive governance set up as Pakistan would have before general elections.

Despite issuance of this clarification, some Afghan and US officials keep issuing fiery statements. Sebghat Ahmadi, a spokesperson for the Afghan foreign ministry said that Khan’s comments have not been taken out of context and that they amounted to a clear act of interference.

More on reaction to Bass Tweet

Many prominent Pakistanis and ordinary citizens strongly reacted to the offensive tweet of the US ambassador.

Political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi termed the US ambassador’s tweet an embarrassment for his country.

He said the Foreign Office should respond — in a strong, swift and unflinching manner — to the diatribe. He added that mid-level bureaucrats publicly speaking like this about the prime minister (of Pakistan) is a red line.

Renowned defence and security analyst Ejaz Haider recommended a "refresher course in diplomatic nuance".

Senior journalist Khurram Husain also blasted the US envoy, reminding him that he had flaunted diplomatic norms by insulting a prime minister.

"Are you sure you even know the ABC of diplomacy? You don't get to talk this way about the prime minister of the country that neighbours the one you are an ambassador in!"

Imaan Zainab, lawyer, blogger and rights activist, also advised the US envoy to introspect.

"The US talking about the 'internal affairs' of another country is laughable. Does the ambassador need to be reminded of US meddling in Chile, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq... The list is long and Twitter characters are limited. Perhaps Bass ought to pick up a history book."

Government representatives too added their voices to the growing condemnation.

Finance Minister Asad Umar criticised the US envoy and 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 said Bass would never make the list of "good ambassadors of the US [...] with that attitude."

Mazari’s tweet raised several eyebrows, with some criticising the human rights minister's use of 'undiplomatic language'.

However, she found support, with Zaidi in another tweet saying, "If Shireen Mazari’s tweet is a bigger problem for you than John Bass’s attack on the prime minister, you need to check yourself."

Journalist Zarrar Khuhro also came forward to support Mazari. He tweeted, "Quite funny that Shireen Mazari's tweet is a blatant violation of diplomatic mores etc but the US ambassador's tweet (an ACTUAL diplomat) is totally okay."