Pak military and political set up shaken by WikiLeaks

Last Updated: Friday, December 3, 2010 - 00:45

Islamabad: Pakistan`s political and
military elite have been shaken by damaging disclosures about
the country`s foreign policy and internal politics in hundreds
of secret US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, with the
media screaming "WikiWreaks havoc" and "WikiLeaks bombs rock
Islamabad".

The media described the revelations as a cause for
worry and introspection.

Virtually all key political personalities, including
President Asif Ali Zardari and his arch-rival PML-N chief
Nawaz Sharif, and all important institutions, including the
powerful military, have been touched by the disclosures, which
contain detailed readouts of meetings and conversations
between US diplomats and Pakistani leaders.

Leaked cables are dominating all bulletins and talk
shows on TV news channels, with viewers tuning in to lap up
all the classified information about the tenuous relations
between the government and the military as well as the
divisions among the politicians.

"WikiWreaks havoc" was the headline in The Express
Tribune while the headline on the front page of the Dawn read:
"WikiLeaks bombs rock Islamabad".

The blunt headline in The News said: "WikiLeaks throws
tons of dirt, shame on Pak players".

Most of the leading newspapers devoted several pages
to extracts from the cables which provide an insight into the
negotiations and meetings that have shaped Pakistan`s policies
on key issues, including the war on terrorism and relations
with India.

"Ever since WikiLeaks started releasing US diplomatic
cables on Sunday, we continue to discover one thing or another
every day. Some new revelations about the power equation in
Pakistan are not just interesting but quite revealing," the
Daily Times newspaper said in an editorial titled `Mirror,
mirror on the wall..."

Referring to one cable that quoted Western leaders as
saying that Zardari had expressed fears about a threat to his
life, the editorial said: "These may be the personal views of
President Zardari and cannot be substantiated without proof if
plans to assassinate him are indeed afoot but when the
President of a country fears for his life, it is time to get
worried."

Calling for introspection on the revelations made
about the Pakistani military`s perceived double role in the
war on terror and the fragile democracy in Pakistan, the
editorial said army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is the
"most powerful man in the country and has positioned himself
as the sole person to negotiate with as far as our foreign
interlocutors are concerned.

"But it is time that democracy is allowed to take root
in the country so that the civil-military relations are put in
a proper perspective”. Since WikiLeaks began releasing the cables over the
week, information has come to light about hitherto
unpublicised fears among the US and Western powers about
materials from Pakistan’s nuclear programme falling into the
hands of extremists.

Some cables show key leaders like Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani in an unflattering light.

Gilani, who condemns US drone strikes in Pakistan’s
tribal belt almost daily, is quoted in one cable as saying
that he has no problems with the attacks by unmanned spy
planes "as long as they get the right people".

The debate on the WikiLeaks` disclosures extended to
the internet, where Pakistani bloggers and users of social
networking websites like Twitter shared information and views
on the leaked cables.

Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, a close aide of
President Zardari, was among those who joined the debate.
"One thing is clear from Wikileaks that elected
persons with people`s mandate don`t run Pakistan. Makes
elections pointless," Taseer said in a message on Twitter.

In another message, he noted that the three
traditional A`s of political success in Pakistan were "Allah,
Army, America", while the "new 3 A`s of political success in
the correct order of priority (are) 1.America 2. Arabs 3.Army".

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 3, 2010 - 00:45

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