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Pakistan Comes Out With FakeLeaks On Kashmir, Indian Army

PTI 10 Dec 2010, 14:21:07 IST
PTI
Had they been true, they could have brought about a downturn in Indo-US diplomacy, but the Pakistani FakeLeaks proved to be completely untrue, reports Indian Express.

Major Pakistani newspapers this morning published reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables in which American diplomats were said to have described the Indian Army as faction-ridden, Indian military officers as incompetent, and an ongoing “Bosnia-like genocide” in Jammu and Kashmir.

PTI, reporting from Islamabad, said the papers had “reproduced an elaborate Internet hoax”. The Guardian, which is one of the newspapers partnering with WikiLeaks in the publication of the cables, said the reports could be “the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes”.

“An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations,” said The Guardian report on the fake cables. Pakistan's The News ran a screaming front-page headline ‘Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan, Waziristan'. A similar story was published in the group's mass-selling Urdu daily Jang. The Urdu Nawa-i-Waqt too carried the story.

The Nation ran a story on its front page headlined ‘Kashmir genocide like Bosnia'. The Express Tribune, a partner of the International Herald Tribune, reported the fake leaks on an inside page.

The reports claimed former Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor had been described in the cables as an “incompetent combat leader” and “rather a geek”, and that the Army was split into “two groups” led by Gen. Kapoor and current chief Gen. V K Singh.  

The cables were purported to have had US officials describing a “Bosnia-like genocide” in Kashmir, and that the slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had told the Americans about a nexus between Indian military leaders and “Hindu fanatic groups”. An Indian military officer had been compared to Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who was charged with war crimes, in the cables, the reports said.

The PTI story on the fake WikiLeaks reports referred to unspecified Pakistani bloggers noting that the “Internet hoax” for which the newspapers fell “was first traced to the website of the Daily Mail, a Pakistani newspaper known for publishing conspiracy theories.

The Guardian reported that the stories were credited to Online Agency, “an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-Army stories in the past”. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor at The News, told The Guardian that his paper had carried “agencies copy” and that he would investigate.

The Guardian noted that the publication of the stories today “fits in with the wider Pakistani reaction to WikiLeaks since the first cables emerged”.  

While reports in the West have focussed on US worries over Pakistan's nuclear weapons and its establishment's backing of terrorists, the Pakistani media has, in general, “given a wide berth to stories casting the military in a negative light”, the newspaper said.

“The lopsided media coverage highlights the strong influence of Pakistan's Army over an otherwise vigorous free press,” The Guardian wrote.

Leading Pakistani newspapers on Friday  acknowledged they were hoaxed after publishing reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables containing crude anti-India propaganda.

Several leading Pakistani newspapers had on Thursday reproduced an elaborate internet hoax based on purported diplomatic cables from the US embassy in India that spoke of alleged rifts between top Indian Army generals and a " Bosnia-like genocide" in Jammu and Kashmir.

Much of Pakistan's media toes a pro-military, anti-Indian line. The instigator of the hoax material remains unclear, though it appeared to have originated on a news website known for anti-Indian and anti-Hindu articles.

While The Express Tribune published an apology on Friday, The News retracted the story that it had carried on its front page using these fake US diplomatic cables. Other admitted they had been hoaxed.

The News had reported on Thursday that cables released by WikiLeaks showed Indian spies were supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal region of Waziristan and the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

Newspapers like the Nation, Nawai Waqt and Jang also carried the report, which quoted purported secret US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Datelined from Washington, The News related how US diplomats thought of Indian army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor as an "incompetent combat leader" and "rather a geek". It claimed another cable as suggesting that a tug-of-war between Kapoor and current army chief Gen V K Singh had divided the force into "two groups". Another general was described as "self-obsessed, petulant and idiosyncratic" who was "barely tolerated" by subordinates.

It liked another to late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic "with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes" in Kashmir.

On Friday, The News wrote that "on further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted".

The News said the report originated from some local websites "known for their close connections with certain intelligence agencies".

Yet another US cable, the report claimed, had mentioned that slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had briefed the Americans about an alleged nexus between the Indian Army and "Hindu fanatic groups".

It claimed Karkare, who died fighting the 26/11 terrorists in Mumbai, had sought security from the Americans for himself and his family. Karkare was one of the several policemen killed during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.