Pakistan, Afghanistan say leaked US cables unreliable

Sunday, December 5, 2010

WASHINGTON - Pakistan and Afghanistan have dismissed the US embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks revealing their secrets as unreliable and the work of “junior officers”.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in a joint news conference in Kabul Saturday expressed doubts on the authenticity of the cables and denied some of their contents.

“I would request you not to trust WikiLeaks,” Gilani said when asked about a cable that said his government lacked control on its military and intelligence services.

“These are just the views of junior officers. They are not authentic. We should not even take them seriously,” he was quoted as saying by The New York Times.

President Karzai also said people might say things casually in private that might not reflect their more considered and accurate positions.

“People say things to other people not necessarily to be a part that they want to take home, and I understand some of the ministers may have been talking about me and some of them have done, I know, and other ministers in future may do the same,” he said, adding: “But we will not have a WikiLeaks to reveal that.”

Karzai also scorned the accuracy of another cable, about former vice president Ahmed Zia Massoud’s taking $52 million in cash out of the country, saying it was absurd to think that a vice president could arrive in another country with 30 suitcases full of cash.

“The American government has been talking to us every day about corruption, every day they give us examples, every day they bring a case of $5,000, how come no report was given of this?” he said.

“We don’t know what to do with this whole thing: do we believe it or not believe it? I would go towards not believing it, that is better for Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

In response to questions related to the cable in which an Afghan minister is reported to have called Karzai “an extremely weak man”, the president said he understood that his ministers spoke about him, but the way the cables characterised their remarks was not correct. “I am sure they are not true,” he said.

Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, in a separate press conference, has said that remarks attributed to him by the US ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry in a cable dated Feb 26, disparaging president Karzai, were false.

Zakhilwal said: “I have never, ever used this word ‘weak’ to describe the president, never, ever. I have not said any kind of words like this regarding anyone.”

He said the accusations had destroyed any trust between him and the ambassador and would affect the ambassador’s effectiveness.

Relations between Karzai and the American ambassador have been uneasy since the leaking of a secret diplomatic cable in which the ambassador said Karzai was “not a reliable partner” for the US.

The American embassy in Kabul Saturday sought to dampen the dispute.

Caitlin Hayden, an embassy spokeswoman, said in a statement: “We are determined not to allow the reckless actions of WikiLeaks to harm the strong and strategic relationships we have built over many years with many members of the government of Afghanistan.”

Filed under: Diplomacy

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