Wikileaks: Pakistan hoaxed by bogus anti-India cables

Image caption,
Read all about it: The hoax cables were reported prominently in leading Pakistani newspapers

Pakistani newspapers have admitted they were hoaxed after publishing reports based on fake Wikileaks cables containing anti-Indian propaganda.

US diplomatic cables were reported on Thursday as confirming many right-wing Pakistani views and conspiracy theories about their regional arch-foe.

They claimed US envoys thought one Indian general was "rather a geek", and accused India of genocide in Kashmir.

The fake cables are believed to have been planted by Pakistani intelligence.

The Guardian, a British newspaper which has all of the 250,000 leaked Wikileaks cables, said that an extensive search of the database had found nothing to match any of the claims in the Pakistani media.

'Deep regret'

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said they were "appalled" such a baseless story had attracted such wide exposure.

According to the fake cables, Indian spies were said to be supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan's north-western tribal region of Waziristan and the south-western province of Balochistan.

US diplomats were also said to believe the Indian Army was faction-ridden; a "Bosnia-like genocide" was happening in Indian-administered Kashmir; and the Indian military was supporting "Hindu fanatic groups".

The bogus messages also referred to the confession of Ajmal Qasab, the only surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, calling it funny and "shockingly immature".

US diplomats were said to have referred to former Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor as "an incompetent combat leader and rather a geek".

"His war doctrine, suggesting eliminating China and Pakistan in a simultaneous war front, was termed as 'much far from reality'," reported the News, a daily newspaper.

Another army chief had apparently been described as "an egotist, self-obsessed, petulant and idiosyncratic general, a braggadocio and a show-off, who has been disliked (and barely tolerated) by all his subordinates".

'Without verification'

The report also said that US diplomats had compared yet another Indian general in Indian-administered Kashmir to "General Milosevic of Bosnia with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes".

Image caption,
The fake cables suggested US diplomats believed India was guilty of war crimes in Kashmir

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

The English-language Express Tribune newspaper, a Pakistani affiliate of the International Herald Tribune, published a front-page retraction.

The daily said it "deeply regrets publishing this story without due verification and apologises profusely for any inconvenience".

But Jang, which had reported the fake Wikileaks story on its front page, did not mention it on Friday.

And the Nation newspaper still appeared to believe the story, claiming in an editorial that the report had exposed "India's true face".

The hoax is said to have originated from the Islamabad-based Online wire agency.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says Online is known for its close links to the Pakistani intelligence services.

The agency gained notoriety in 2002 when one of its correspondents tried to sell a video of US journalist Daniel Pearl's murder to US diplomats.

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