December 4, 2010

Wikileaks - The holy book for Journalists

Back in July 2010 when the Afghan warlogs were released by Wikileaks, it created a bit of stir between Pakistan and the USA The information released then was about the operations of Pakistan Army and the ISI. No one took it very seriously (anti-US public opinion) and the public let it go, as if it’s a situation the armed forces can best handle on their own. These were logs of daily activity of any soldier on the ground and could have be ignored as hearsay or opinions collected from the military activities and local population.

Cablegate, however is very serious! In fact it has the potential to affect the local political environments, power structures or even provoke physical reactions between nations. These revelations can improve or hurt relations, and may well become the reason for long lasting change this world needs. But that is only possible if the information is taken as authentic and based on real facts, which may not be challengeable. Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey are the active topics so far, with India and Afghanistan due to the Mumbai events, and the war on terrorism. Cablegate (Wikileaks) are the transcripts of the exchange of information as sent and collected from Ambassadors around the world by the State Department of USA, which contain news reports, meeting minutes, and professional opinions or comments of the high ranking US Government officials as email texts. Similar to Afghan war logs, the officials were merely performing their duties by updating their State Department of the local activity. But the Cablegate releases are different, because then it were only ‘soldiers’, and here we are talking about the senior most representatives of the super power of this world.

Although many other countries are discussed by their representative Ambassadors within the leaks. Like many others, I would be interested in learning more about our regional politics to understand what has been going on until last year for which we are in the current state. By Cablegate texts my developed perception up until today is that Pakistan is in the spotlight as usual for all the terror problems of this world, Saudi Arabia is appearing as sectarian and influencing the terror problems, Turkey as the possible role model of the region, and Iran as the naughty one who just doesn’t listen to anyone, which the Arabs want the US to control by force.

There are some very interesting comments of our leaders in addition to reporting back opinions of King Abdullah calling President Zardari a “Rotten head” and supporting a military rule in Pakistan or Prime Minister Gilani giving the go ahead for the drone strikes with his plan to make reactionary noise about it in the Parliament, which I believe may lead to decisive results, especially for Pakistan in American diplomat’s views or summaries;

There is "no chance" that the Pakistan army could be persuaded to stop sponsoring four militant groups – including the one responsible for the Mumbai attack. America and Pakistan are locked in a transactional relationship based on mutual distrust

· The Pakistani Army has for just the second time approved deployment of U.S. special operation elements to support Pakistani military operations. Previously, the Pakistani military leadership adamantly opposed letting us embed our special operations personnel with their military forces.

· During Ambassador's fourth meeting in a week with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani on March 10, he again hinted that he might, however reluctantly, have to persuade President Zardari to resign if the situation sharply deteriorates. He mentioned Asfundyar Wali Khan as a possible replacement. This would not be a formal coup but would leave in place the PPP government led by PM Gilani, thus avoiding elections that likely would bring Nawaz Sharif to power.

· Afghan instability by definition leads the Pakistani establishment to increase support for the Taliban and thereby, unintentionally, create space for al-Qaeda. No amount of money will sever that link.

· "Pakistan knows the US cannot afford to walk away; the US knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support." RADAR MAINTENANCE: Between August 2006 and July 2007, Pakistan submitted claims for almost 70 million USD in ADA Radar Maintenance, although there is no enemy air threat related to the war on terror. BARBED WIRE: Between August 2006 and July 2007, we received a claim for 26 million USD in barbed wire and pickets. While these items are no doubt helpful in protecting outposts, the claim figures are highly suspect.

· The crux of the problem appears to center on the treatment of terrorists detained in battlefield operations and have focused on the extra-judicial killing of some detainees.The detainees involved were in the custody of Frontier Corps or Pakistan Army units.

· In order not to increase the risk to our military personnel as they conclude their successful mission to Pakistan, post recommends that no action on the JuD designation be taken until all DAC-PAK operations have concluded and DAC personnel are in the Islamabad area.

· DGISI Pasha asked Ambassador to convey to Washington that he had followed up on threat information that an attack would be launched against India between September-November. He had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India. He had also gone to Muscat and Tehran to engage those intelligence services on threats, and they were alerted and working with Pakistan.

· Ambassador saw Zardari at Bilawal House in Karachi. Zardari's father is in poor health and Zardari was reluctant to leave Karachi. The conversation turned to security in the neighborhood and his personal security. Zardari said his vulnerability was one reason it was important to select a competent President of the Senate. (If the president dies or resigns, the President of the Senate would step in as President until the indirect election for President could be held.) Zardari revealed that, if he was assassinated, he had instructed his son Bilawal to name his sister, Faryal Talpur, as President.

· It seems likely that King Abdullah, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Saud al-Faisal will offer Musharraf pledges of strong support in their meetings today. We note that the Saudis have an economic hold on Nawaz Sharif, sine he was reportedly the first non-Saudi to receive a special economic development loan from the SAG, with which to develop a business while here in exile.

· The Siddiqui case has from its outset elicited a strong, emotional response among the Pakistani public, and has regularly been raised with us by senior Pakistani officials. Many Pakistanis were undoubtedly taken by surprise by the verdict as one-sided media coverage of the case reported only her defense and not the prosecution's case, leading local observers to conclude her acquital was a near certainty. We expect this issue to persist for some time as a nationalistic cause with the active involvement of the JI who never tire of anti-American agitation

· Turkey is well-positioned to be a much more positive role model for the Pakistanis and to neutralize somewhat the more negative influence on Pakistani politics and society exercised by Saudi Arabia.

There are hundreds more to come, and many which discuss the local political situation and statements of the leadership. The only way to verify these cables for authenticity is to confirm with the diplomats and leaders mentioned, but there is no way you cannot believe them to be concocted cables. It may be that the Wikileaks and Cablegate information are offered to public to serve a purpose, in order to mend or further justify the US foreign policy.

Pakistan media, military and government have proudly accepted a part of the cable where the Ambassador has reported back her reservations with the issues of exporting nuclear fuel by US from the reactors, but is rubbishing all other reports. It can also serve the purpose of engaging new countries in fresh conflict while the US sneaks out of Afghanistan and shifted to more developed and richer land. But the question remains, why would the USA compromise their civil intelligence gathering mechanism? or is it also a surprise to the American administration of its failure to secure diplomatic secrets, just as it is to the rest of the world.

Lastly, why is this information released as an intelligent sequence with accurate timings and order of information disclosure, which is perhaps according to the regional situation? The ultimate beneficiary maybe the one behind this extravaganza, but this is for sure that for the next couple of months as new cables are released there will be some upcoming changes.

Perhaps, the US State Department has better actors than Hollywood?

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