Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State
US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton and President Asif Ali Zardari played down leaked confidential US embassy cables exposing tensions between their nations as “out of context” in a telephone conversation yesterday, a Pakistani official said.
The cables, obtained by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and reported by The New York Times and The Guardian laid bare divisions between the US and Pakistan on nuclear arms safety.
They also revealed that the Pakistani army considered forcing out Zardari, who was cast as an unpopular president who dreads his own assassination.
Moving quickly to patch-up any suggestion of a diplomatic fallout from the leaks Clinton and Zardari spoke about the “so-called memos and official correspondence by the Wikileaks,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.
“The two leaders agreed that the WikiLeak publications were not only unauthorised but also out of context and were based on raw information that did not reflect the correct nature of the purported official correspondence”.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which was given advance access to the memos released by the internet whistleblower, said the documents showed greater US concern about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal than previously revealed in public.
Pakistan dismissed fears that its nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, issuing a terse statement on Wednesday (December 1) accusing the US and Britain of “condescension”.
In another cable quoted by both newspapers, US vice president Joe Biden recounted to Britain’s then prime minister Gordon Brown a conversation with Zardari last year.
Zardari, the cable said, told him that the Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency “will take me out.” The Guardian said the cables also showed that Zardari has made extensive preparations in case he is killed.
Zardari is the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. He took power in 2008, returning Pakistan to civilian leadership after nearly a decade under military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Tensions between Zardari and the army are no secret, and Pakistan is frequently awash with coup rumors.
Babar said Clinton and Zardari agreed that “the so-called leaks will not be allowed to cast a shadow on the strategic partnership between the two countries”.
“The so-called leaks of official memos is already a thing of the past and the president looks forward to the future and the promise it holds,” Babar added.
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