'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
Major Pakistani newspapers Thursday 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.
'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
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.
'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
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 "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.
Source: The Indian Express