A cache of a quarter-million US cables released by WikiLeaks has
exposed secret back-room manoeuvring by the US and has
dramatically revealed how India was kept out of a key meeting on
Afghanistan that was held in Turkey.
Among the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, 3,038 are
from the US embassy in India. Other cables pertain to
communications from US missions in Islamabad, Colombo and
India was one of the countries reached out by top US diplomats
before the much anticipated release of what the New York Times
described as "an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by
embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign
"We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible
release of documents," State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley
said ahead of their publication Sunday, triggering condemnation
from the White House and congressional leaders.
The US had warned WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange that
publishing the papers would be illegal and endanger peoples'
A secret cable from the US embassy in Ankara showed that India was
kept out of the Jan 25 meeting held in Turkey on Afghanistan to
appease Pakistan, though Islamabad was of the view that excluding
India from such regional structures would be a mistake.
At a meeting with US Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs William Burns, then Turkey's deputy under secretary for
Bilateral Political Affairs, responsible for the Middle East,
South Asia and Africa, Rauf Engin Soysal, said Turkey had not
invited India to the Afghanistan Neighbours Summit "in deference
to Pakistani sensitivities".
"He (Soysal) said Turkey had not invited India to the neighbours
summit in deference to Pakistani sensitivities; however, he
claimed, Pakistan understands attempting to exclude India from the
nascent South Asian regional structures would be a mistake,"
Guardian quoted the message dated Feb 25, 2010 as saying.
Zardari met Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his Afghan
counterpart Hamid Karzai at an international conference in
Istanbul that kicked off Jan 25 this year.
"He (Soysal) reported Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh had
requested (Turkish) President (Abdullah) Gul's assistance with
Pakistan during the latter's visit to New Delhi the previous week.
Acting on that request, Gul had phoned Pakistani President Zardari,
who was sceptical of Indian intentions. Gul is planning to visit
Pakistan later this year."
"Soysal said Iran is proposing a quadrilateral summit, which would
include Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that proposal had
yet to generate enthusiasm," the secret cable said.
Among the 251,287 cables provided by WikiLeaks to The New York
Times, 2,278 cables are from the US mission in Kathmandu, 3,325
from Colombo and 2,220 from Islamabad.
Many are unclassified, and none are marked "top secret", the
government's most secure communications status. But some 11,000
are classified "secret", 9,000 are labelled "noforn", shorthand
for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign
government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and "noforn".
Publishing the documents would jeopardise "our diplomats,
intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come
to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and
open government", White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel and a global
computer hacking effort by China are among the revelations laid
bare by WikiLeaks.
The cables show that nearly a decade after the Sep 11, 2001
attacks, terrorism still dominates the US' relations with the
world, said the Times.
"They depict the Obama administration struggling to sort out which
Pakistanis are trustworthy partners against Al Qaeda, adding
Australians who have disappeared in the Middle East to terrorist
watch lists, and assessing whether a lurking rickshaw driver in
Lahore, Pakistan, was awaiting fares or conducting surveillance of
the road to the American Consulate.
"They show American officials managing relations with a China on
the rise and a Russia retreating from democracy. They document
years of painstaking effort to prevent Iran from building a
nuclear weapon - and of worry about a possible Israeli strike on
Iran with the same goal," the Times said.
Detailing "a dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel"
revealed by WikiLeaks, the Times said: "Since 2007, the United
States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to
remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium
that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an
illicit nuclear device.
In May 2009, (US) Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that
Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical
experts because, as a Pakistani official said, "if the local media
got word of the fuel removal, 'they certainly would portray it as
the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons,' he argued."
Another cable said a Chinese contact told the American embassy in
Beijing in January that China's Politburo directed the intrusion
into Google's computer systems in that country.
The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer
sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security
experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government,
They have broken into American government computers and those of
Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002,
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)