Islamabad: Leading Pakistani newspapers
on Friday acknowledged that they were hoaxed into publishing
reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables that contained stories
of factionalism in Indian army and accused New Delhi of
sponsoring militant groups.
The reports splashed prominently in several papers
including The Express Tribune and The News, a partner of the
International Herald Tribune, quoting alleged US diplomatic
cables to confirm bias Pakistani views and conspiracy theories
about India particularly about Jammu and Kashmir.
The two papers today carried prominent apologies on
their front pages regarding the report they had published
yesterday on alleged disclosures in purported diplomatic
cables from the US embassy in Delhi about Indian Army generals
and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, The Nation, a daily known for its anti-India
views, showed no regret for carrying fake reports and instead
printed an editorial titled "India`s true face" that
criticised India on the basis of the fake report.
Both The Express Tribune and The News blamed the fake
cables on Online news agency, an Islamabad-based wire service
that has often carried pro-army reports.
However, inquiries have shown that the report
on the fake cables first appeared on the website of Daily
Mail, a little-known newspaper, on December 8.
Several Pakistani bloggers have noted that the Daily
Mail is noted for printing wild conspiracy theories.
In a recent report, it claimed that India`s external
intelligence agency was involved in framing Pakistani
cricketers in a spot-fixing scam.
In its apology, The Express Tribune said the report it
had published with the headline "WikiLeaks: What US officials
think about the Indian Army" was "not authentic".
"The Express Tribune deeply regrets publishing this
story without due verification and apologises profusely for
any inconvenience caused to our valued readers," it said.
The News, in its apology, said it had run Online news
agency`s report "with the confidence that it was a genuine
report and must have been vetted before release".
It added: "However, several inquiries suggest that
this was not the case." The News said Online`s owner Mohsin
Baig and some editorial staff "were themselves unclear about
the source of the story and said they would investigate the
matter at their end".
It added: "On further inquiries, we learnt from our
sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted."
The daily too acknowledged that the fake report had
"originated from some local websites such as The Daily Mail
and Rupee News known for their close connections with certain
Britain`s Guardian newspaper, which has been provided
the entire database of leaked US diplomatic cables, reported
that an extensive search by "date, name and keyword failed to
locate any of the incendiary allegations" about India.
"It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being
exploited for propaganda purposes," the paper reported.