KARACHI: A story filed by a news agency about purported WikiLeaks cables disclosing Indiaís involvement in Balochistan and Waziristan, carried by The News, Daily Jang and many other Pakistani newspapers, has been widely criticised as not being accurate. The prestigious British newspaper The Guardian described the report as “the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes”.
The report said that US diplomats described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal, and that India’s government was secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists. It also claimed that Indian spies were covertly supporting Islamist militants in the tribal belt and Balochistan.
The story was released by the Islamabad-based Online news agency and was run by The News and Daily Jang with the confidence that it was a genuine report and must have been vetted before release. However, several inquiries suggest that this was not the case.
When contacted, the owner of the agency, Mohsin Baig, and some of the editorial staff were themselves unclear about the source of the story and said they would investigate the matter at their end.
Mohsin Baig said he had just returned from Turkey where he had accompanied the prime minister on his official visit and was therefore in the dark about how the story was released. He said he would talk to his editorial staff and get back to us. After a while, Onlineís news editor contacted us and told us he too was unaware about the source of the story and would check and get back to us as soon as possible. Despite repeated requests, he declined to contact the employee who had downloaded the news, and asked us to check with them the next day. On further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted.
A check on the Internet as well as The Guardian report showed that the story was not based on Wikileaks cables, and had in fact originated from some local websites such as The Daily Mail and Rupee News known for their close connections with certain intelligence agencies. The Guardian quoted Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor The News, as describing the story as “agencies’ copy” and said he would investigate its origins.