Wikileaks: A chance for Pakistan to vindicate itself

Published: August 3, 2010
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The US case against Pakistan and the ISI is based on information sourced to ‘informants’ with vested interests

Since late 2006, the United States government, military, intelligence and media have been orchestrating regular attacks against Pakistan, creating a false alarm about its nuclear capability and portraying its premier spy agency, the ISI, as a threat to world peace.

Weak and apologetic reactions by Pakistan’s political and military officials have encouraged this American double game.

But then came the smoking gun: more than 90,000 leaked US intelligence documents, which prove how the Washington establishment has been running a vilification campaign against Pakistan both under Bush and Obama administrations, without any evidence except malicious intent.

Here is a chance for Pakistan to use these documents to argue its own case more confidently.

As soon as the classified documents were leaked, the US government sprung into action to minimize damage by shifting focus towards Pakistan.

The US government and military officials succeeded in making Pakistan (and ISI) the main story, thus hiding the massive US failures in Afghanistan, including evidence on war crimes and civilian carnage. It’s an exercise that bears all the hallmarks of CIA-style public diplomacy (a la the Iraq invasion.)

Instead of focussing on American failures and war crimes that have been neatly hidden from the world for eight years, the mainstream US media chose to indulge in anti-Pakistanism (which is rampant and endemic within the US media and among think-tank types).

British journalist, Declan Walsh, noticed the anti-Pakistan streak in way the Obama administration handled the leaks. “In issuing such a strongly worded statement with implicit criticism of the ISI,” Mr. Walsh wrote in The Guardian, “the White House may be trying to keep ahead of a tide of US opinion that is hostile towards Pakistan.”

A taste of deceit

Here’s a quick look at how ISI and Pakistan are a small part of the story blown out of proportion:

–      Out of more than 90,000 classified US documents, only about 180 mention ISI, and only about 30 or so charge the Pakistani spy service of wrongdoing in Afghanistan

–         The whole case built by the US against Pakistan and ISI is based not on evidence but on information sourced to ‘informants’, ‘sources’, initials [like A.E.], and sources linked to either the new US-created Afghan intelligence or the Indians. Both Karzai’s spies and the Indians have been telling anyone who wouldd listen that they are the preeminent source for any credible information on Pakistan

–         Many of these classified US documents carry a disclaimer by the authors or their handlers in the US military and intelligence. The disclaimer emphasize that the information in these reports can’t be trusted, is unverified, is sourced to people who are working for monetary gain or are linked to biased parties like India and Karzai’s intelligence

–         Most importantly, many of these documents carry a warning that US policymakers should not rely on information in the reports to formulate policy

The real story

The real story, the one hidden in the bulk of the 90,000 leaked documents, is this:

–         How have the US government, military and CIA hidden a US military disaster in Afghanistan from the American public and the world

–         How the mainstream US media is complicit in misleading the American public and the world

–         The United States is involved in war crimes in Afghanistan, especially in the mass murder of innocent Afghan civilians

–         The US and its allies within the Pakistani government and military maybe hiding similar tales of mass murder of Pakistani citizens in Pakistan’s tribal belt who fell victim to drones

Two important questions emerge from these documents:

1.       If this is the level of US propaganda against Pakistan over the past five years, why have Pakistan’s leaders acquiesced to US’s pressure tactics and failed to appropriately respond to American disinformation?

2.      If this is the quality of US intelligence in Afghanistan, why has the Pakistan government and military accepted faulty US intelligence to allow US covert military operations inside Pakistan that have almost pushed the nation to civil war?

Pakistan’s leaders have almost wasted one opportunity – the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue in March 2010 – to redefine terms of cooperation between Islamabad and Washington in Afghanistan. This storm over leaked secrets provides a second opportunity to Pakistani policymakers to review their generally apologetic policy.

ahmed.quraishi

Ahmed Quraishi

The author is a journalist and a public policy professional, with government & private sector experience across Pakistan and the Middle East. He tweets @Office_AQPk (twitter.com/Office_AQPk)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.