|A couple Pakistani papers and TV networks were deceived by false US diplomatic cables [EPA]|
Several leading Pakistani newspapers have acknowledged that they were hoaxed, after publishing reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables that contained crude anti-India propaganda.
The reports, which featured prominently in several papers on Thursday, cited alleged US diplomatic cables as confirming many right-wing Pakistani views and conspiracy theories about the country’s arch enemy India and the disputed Kashmir region.
Much of Pakistan’s media toes a pro-military, anti-Indian line, which was reflected by the papers’ extensive coverage of the fake memos.
The instigators of the hoax remain unclear, though the material appeared to have originated on a news website that features anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani articles.
The fake dispatches quoted the US ambassador in India as saying that “India was ready for war with Pakistan in 2004”.
The reports included details about India’s alleged “anti-Pakistan activities” in the country’s tribal areas and Afghanistan.
In reaction to the false disclosures, Pakistan’s foreign office, during a press briefing, said it was “already aware of Indian designs”.
The US state department’s denial of the cable’s authenticity led Pakistani media to retract their previous statements.
The Express Tribune, which partners with the International Herald Tribune in Pakistan, said it “deeply regrets” having published the story.
Other papers, as well as several TV channels, acknowledged the reports were false.
Jang, which had carried the fake WikiLeaks on its front page, said, “It only goes to show how the media can get carried away in the heat of the moment without checking the facts”.
But The Nation ran an editorial saying the hoax had exposed “India’s true face”.
The WikiLeaks disclosures have dominated Pakistani media since they appeared, with pundits highlighting elements that appear to confirm their stance on the country’s military and political leaders, as well as the influence of America and other countries on Pakistan’s internal affairs.