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Asia

Pakistan rejects WikiLeaks disclosures

Leaked memos have revealed that there is great tension between the US and Pakistan over nuclear arms security. Moreover, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari comes across as being paranoid about being assassinated.

A horror scenario for many is that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of militants

A horror scenario for many is that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of militants

That Pakistan's nuclear weapons could get into the hands of terrorists is a known horror scenario.

But according to the latest revelations by the controversial WikiLeaks website the US seems to be even more worried about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal than has been previously maintained.

One cable apparently warned in 2008 that Pakistan was "producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world."

Last year, the then US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson is revealed to have said the main concern is not that Islamist militants will get hold of an "entire weapon but that someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon."

A statement issued by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office on Wednesday condemned the leaks, saying they were "misleading" and "malicious."

Some disclosed documents suggest Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari is worried about being assassinated

Some disclosed documents suggest Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari is worried about being assassinated

A foreign ministry spokesman meanwhile said they were "condescending". He also pointed out that there had not been a "single incident" involving Pakistan's fissile material – a reflection of strong "controls and mechanisms".

Drone strikes apparently tolerated

Another controversial matter brought up in the cables is US frustration that Pakistan seems reluctant to cut off ties with extremists, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused of being behind the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

One of the reasons for this reluctance, the cables speculate, is that Pakistan wants to maintain as much influence in Afghanistan as possible.

Tied in with this is a secret cable sent by Ambassador Paterson suggesting that Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said that US drone strikes on Pakistan's autonomous tribal regions would be unofficially tolerated but publicly condemned.

This disclosure was also refuted by Pakistan's foreign ministry on Wednesday. The official line that UN drone attacks breach Pakistan's sovereignty and are having long-term negative consequences was reiterated.

Zardari fears coup or assassination

The leaks suggest that Pakistan's PM unofficially gave the green light for US drone attacks

The leaks suggest that Pakistan's PM unofficially gave the green light for US drone attacks

Another story which has been given prominent attention regards President Asif Ali Zardari who apparently has made preparations for his assassination or a coup.

One of the documents talks about a conversation that took place in January 2009 between US Vice President Joe Biden and Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown. President Zardari is said to have told Biden that Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and the secret services were going to "take him out."

It is no secret in Pakistan that there is tension between Zardari and the army and rumors of possible coups are not rare.

Political analyst Irfan Siddiqi told Deutsche Welle that the WikiLeaks revelations could have a powerful impact in Pakistan.

"I feel that nothing is sacred in Pakistan," he said. "Institutions and renowned personalities have lost face. Above all, the character of the army and its head has been disclosed."

Author: Anne Thomas (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Matthias von Hein

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