ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday ridiculed the Wikileaks disclosure that the Saudi monarch described President Asif Zardari as the biggest hurdle to the country’s progress, calling it “mischievous, misleading and contrary to facts”.
“We consider the extremely negative reports carried on Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations attributed to Wikileaks as misleading and contrary to facts,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit. However, he said Pakistan was not in a position to comment on the veracity of US internal documents.
His remarks came after Wikileaks posted on its website some 200 cables written by US diplomats containing blunt assessment of their host governments.
The leaked documents revealed that Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz speaking about President Asif Zardari, called him the biggest obstacle to Pakistan’s progress. “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body,” it quoted him as saying.
However, the Foreign Office spokesperson tried to downplay the controversy. “Pakistan enjoys a very special and unique relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Basit said. Saudi Arabia, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the royal family and the people of Saudi Arabia have always stood by Pakistan, he added. “It is quite evident that these mischievous reports reveal the utter inadequacy of the author to grasp the essence of the Pakistan-Saudi relationship.”
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar also rejected the leaked cables, saying President Zardari regards the king as “an elder brother”.
“After stating what we thought of the so-called leaks there would appear no need for contacting Saudi Arabia,” Babar told — by phone from Colombo.
The Saudi king’s purported remarks about President Zardari have sparked fears of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. “The so-called leaks are no more than an attempt to create misperceptions between two important and brotherly Muslim countries,” said Babar.
However, it is widely believed that the Saudis are not forthcoming and generous towards the current PPP-led government in Pakistan.
Their indifferent approach could be judged from the fact that they scraped negotiations with the Gilani administration in 2008 on import of oil on deferred payments when the PML-N pulled out of the coalition government on the issue of restoration of judges.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is considered to be a close friend of Saudis, who hosted him and his family for almost seven years after he was thrown out in a military coup in 1999.
Wikileaks also revealed that in July 2009, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Zayed, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces and de facto defence chief, said Zardari was “dirty but not dangerous” and Nawaz Sharif was “dangerous but not dirty”.
Interestingly, PML-N spokesperson Ahsan Iqbal instead of rejecting the disclosures said “it reflects that Nawaz Sharif is a man of principle.”
Though Pakistan rejected the leaked cables about the Saudi king, it confirmed parts of the Wikileaks revelations that Islamabad denied the US access to nuclear facilities.
“Pakistan is an advanced nuclear technology state. No one can touch Pakistan’s nuclear facilities and assets,” asserted the Foreign Office spokesperson. He added that Pakistan had plainly refused the US suggestion to have the fuel transferred. However, Basit made it clear that the controversy would not affect relations between Pakistan and the US.
“The US had alerted us to the unauthorised leaks,” he added.
The US Embassy spokesperson said there has been no fallout yet of the release of confidential information by Wikileaks.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2010.
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