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The Cables That Weren’t

Fake anti-India cables appear in Pakistan papers

The Cables That Weren’t

The bizarre nature of the Wikileaks cables is just the stuff to inspire Pakistani agencies to plant stories in the media to embarrass India. And the gullible could well have been taken in had it not been for intrepid Outlook correspondents who can sniff fiction spun as news!

On Thursday, December 9, a string of Pak newspapers cited WikiLeaks to scream extraordinary revelations. The reports said that a WikiLeaks cable sent from the US embassy in Delhi described former Indian army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor as incompetent, a geek; that the Indian army was aligned with Hindu fundamentalists and was genocidal. The list of indictments was long, going on and on.

When quintessential Outlook newshound Mariana Baabar logged on to Indian newspaper websites early Thursday morning, she was puzzled to see none had reported what was, by all standards, a sensational disclosure. She called Outlook’s Delhi office requesting an early tip-off should New Delhi react to the news.

Outlook’s Delhi office then got in touch with its London contributor Saptarshi Ray, who has co-authored this cover story and works for the Guardian, about the ‘information gap’. The solution to the riddle came at exactly 16.29 GMT, Dec 10, when the Guardian placed on its site a story by their Islamabad correspondent Declan Walsh, titled ‘Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India’!

In his report, Walsh says, “An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by the Guardian by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations. It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.” Walsh’s report quotes Shaheen Sehbai, group editor, The News, one of the papers featuring the fake cable, as saying that it was an “agencies copy”, a term Pakistanis use to describe both news and intelligence agencies.

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