The leading Pakistani newspaper Dawn began publishing around 4,700 U.S. diplomatic cables that the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks had obtained through its secret channels. The documents are being published as part of “The Pakistan Papers.”
An agreement was signed by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, and Dawn and the newspaper’s print editions and the website began publishing juicy stories that may be embarrassing to many Pakistani civilian and military leaders.
The cables, for instance, indicate that, despite Pakistani officials’ public denunciations of CIA drone attacks which have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians, many Pakistani officials, including the Army Chief, were asking for more drone strikes.
The cables also provide details of U.S. military’s operations inside Pakistan. Some other cables indicate the U.S. unsetting with Pakistan’s President Mr. Zardari, or how Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s brother, was willing to remove the Chief Justice although publicly saying something quite different.
The cables, as before, need to be read with caution. Many observers have mistakenly been accepting WikiLeaks revelations as hard facts. Ironically, many American media outlets which have denounced Wikileaks and its founder Assange—New York Times, above all, but also noteworthy is FrontPageMagazine which have previously claimed that “WikiLeaks document dump imperils our interests, endangers our allies and emboldens our enemies”—are now referring to Wikileaks documents to bolster their arguments.
Wikileaks cables are diplomatic notes U.S. diplomats stationed around the world have prepared for their bosses in Washington. In some cases, obviously, the cables may show what the U.S. diplomats wanted to hear or wanted to believe in, or even wanted their bosses in Washington to hear. For instance, U.S. diplomats in Pakistan might have stressed Pakistani support for U.S. drones, while minimizing the concerns raised by Pakistani officials.
Furthermore, those media companies that publish WikiLeaks cables may release documents selectively, manipulating with the content of the documents. For instance, some Pakistani newspapers published a U.S. cable which claims that India had shown “insufficient evidence” indicating that the support for terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 came from Pakistan. It is true that a U.S. diplomat sympathetic to Pakistani concerns might have written such a note. However, that is just a view of a U.S. diplomat, not a fact.
Nonetheless, the value of the cables is undeniable. It remains to be seen how explosive the cables will turn out to be in Pakistan.