No conspiracy theories, please

Published: December 9, 2010

The writer is an analyst and a former ambassador to Yemen, Nigeria and Italy

Talking to Time Magazine on July 28, 1958, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt confessed: “I have been a conspirator for so long that I mistrust all around me.” Were they equally candid our legion of conspirators would probably agree. Hence they dismissed the WikiLeaks exposures as a ‘CIA conspiracy.’ They did it with such aplomb and so quickly after the Pakistani leaks surfaced that it seemed they had proof.

In fact, they were trying to shield those who had blabbed irresponsibly to the American envoy in the certitude that their outpourings would never see the light of day. Well, it did and their credibility has been further dented. They should have emulated their supreme commander whose put-down of the insult King Abdullah hurled at him was masterly. In their case, too, a simple, ‘well, that is what she thought she heard’ would have sufficed. Their explanation was implausible to say the least. Clearly, some ‘new thought’ machinery is required in Rawalpindi.

Ironically, if the cables are a concoction, as our conspiracy theorists aver, then, logically the latest disclosures about Indian brutalities against Muslims that the cables from the American Embassy in New Delhi reveal, would also be false. In fact, the horrors perpetrated on Muslims by the Indian Army led by generals, in the mould of the war criminal Milosevic, are precisely what our intelligence reports relay. Are we then lying to ourselves?

Far from promoting the American cause, US embassy cables reveal that the US had in their possession solid information about the Indian Army atrocities against Muslims; the nexus between Indian generals and Hindu terrorist/extremist outfits like Shiv Sena, Sang Parivaar, Hindutva Brotherhood; the assassination of Hemant Kekare, an honest Indian policeman, by the Indian army in a pre-planned ambush in Bombay for exposing the involvement of an Indian army colonel in the Samjhota Express attack of 2007 and much else. One cable reports the prescient, albeit, pathetic pleas of Hemant Harkare for American protection, lest he be eliminated by the Indian establishment.

Notwithstanding urgings from its own diplomats in New Delhi, that Washington alert the UN to the genocide of innocent Muslims in Kashmir — Washington did nothing. Or, rather it did, Obama came to Delhi, grovelled for Indian support against China; announced support for Indian membership of the UNSC; opened up America’s armoury for weapon purchases by India and promised dollops of enriched uranium for Indian nuclear reactors to free up indigenous production for more nuclear weapons. Not content, he praised India for the great democracy that she was and warned Pakistan against harbouring terrorists. Not bad for a country which, according to its own embassy, said that while terrorist groups were found in Pakistan, this was far less compared to what India had on its own territory.

The little that has so far been revealed has shown America in not too good a light. It reveals the sordid values that underlie American policy and the fact that American self-interest speaks all sorts of tongues and plays all sorts of devilish roles. An American WASP (white Anglo-Saxon protestant), we may have guessed, was capable of such antics, but Obama? The liberal, half-Kikuyu with a Muslim father? It beggars the imagination.

What the Indian cables revealed will reverberate for a long time in Pakistan. They will probably remove the last vestige of trust in America and the hope of a semblance of balance in its policy when it comes to India and Pakistan. The fact that America knew and did nothing, because it must have approved of the Karzai-India collusion to sow disaffection in Waziristan and Balochistan, will effectively put to rest any possibility of reconciliation between Islamabad and a Kabul under Karzai; and, of course, anything like a rapprochement with India. And still our conspiracy-minded theorists will go on prattling that WikiLeaks was a CIA conspiracy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2010.

Update: December 10, 2010

Dear Sir,

I was deeply disappointed with your paper and myself for being taken for a ride by what, on second thoughts, should have been seen as an obvious piece of dis-information. I refer of course to the fake WikiLeak documents purporting to be cables from the American Embassy in New Delhi published in your paper’s issue of 9th December. Although, it seems, that the Tribune and I were not the only ones to have been so duped there is no gain saying the fact that better and more intrusive investigation may have revealed them to have been fake. To that extent we were both remiss.

As the article bearing my name in today’s issue of the Tribune was prompted entirely by what these fake cables contained and which now turn out to have been palpably false I would like you to publish this retraction and to convey to your readers my unreserved apologies.

Your’s faithfully,

Zafar Hilaly

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Reader Comments (51)

  • Gash
    Dec 9, 2010 - 11:29PM

    There is no limit to lies…. pls read this from Guardian:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-indiaRecommend

  • JYD
    Dec 10, 2010 - 12:03AM

    Ambassador sahib has fallen prey to the lifafa reports. The so called Wikileaks he refers to have been proven to be fake.

    See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-indiaRecommend

  • Anonymous
    Dec 10, 2010 - 12:04AM

    These r false theories by pakistani news papers
    this is the link from the gaurdianRecommend

  • Sadiq
    Dec 10, 2010 - 12:06AM

    Dear Writer,

    Before making allegations against any country, you need to have your facts right. And as an analyst, you should give us the true picture irrespective of the outcome. It may be an honest mistake from your side but please refer to this link

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india?intcmp=239Recommend

  • kritavarman
    Dec 10, 2010 - 12:16AM

    ha ha ha haRecommend

  • Faisal
    Dec 10, 2010 - 12:33AM

    hahahahahahaha

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india?CMP=twt_gu

    your sources have been proved fake sir…..lol, this is epicRecommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 1:03AM

    Sir, while I appreciate your sentiments, and wholeheartedly agree that anything that does not fit into our view of the world should not be discarded as a conspiracy, the alleged cables you refer to: killings, and genocidal generals etc, are all fake. Kindly skim through the cables that have been disclosed so far and none of them corroborate the facts that you are claiming. Apart from one cable that refers to Indian involvement and support for an insurgency in Baluchistan, none of the other facts are found anywhere.

    Cafe Payala has highlighted this fact already http://cafepyala.blogspot.com/2010/12/leaking-away.html and if that wasnt enough, the fact that fake cables are popping up has been caught on with the international media: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india?INTCMP=SRCH

    These supposed leaks have been attributed to Agency sources by The News and the Jang. So either sir you have gotten caught up with yesterdays headlines, or perhaps you yourself are peddling rumours?

    Can we please stop embarrassing ourselves! Everyone goes on and on, about the international media defaming Pakistan, when we are our own worst enemies. In a globalizied world, do our “Agencies” really believe that they wouldn’t be caught out! Recommend

  • Who_am_I
    Dec 10, 2010 - 1:25AM

    Zafar Hilalyji,this is really going to hurt..so plz take your seat..and do u want to take a puff before breaking the news to you..Here it is.
    http://cafepyala.blogspot.com/2010/12/leaking-away.html
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india
    http://asiancorrespondent.com/fiverupees/how-dumb-are-our-agencies
    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/09/pakistani_media_published_fake_wikileaks_scoops
    and…

    Original source of all these nonsense :-) the newspaper of mythical Christina Palmer
    http://dailymailnews.com/1210/08/FrontPage/index1.phpRecommend

  • rangacharya kulkarni
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:10AM

    Hi Mr. Zafar,

    Could you quote the source. I extensively searched wikileaks.None of them have these leaks about Balochistan and Hemant Karkare. It will reflect about your integrity as a former ambassador if you write without authenticating..

    can anybody provide a link on this issue? What is going on? Where have these leaks come from? Recommend

  • John
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:14AM

    Apparently you’ve been had, those cables are fake, and Outlook (India), the Guardian (UK), and Foreign Policy (US) are having fun with it at your expense:

    http://blogs.outlookindia.com/default.aspx?ddm=10&pid=2401&eid=5

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india

    The Guardian has the actual database of leaks, the least you could do is search them. Recommend

  • Anjishnu Kumar
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:21AM
  • Bond
    Dec 10, 2010 - 5:09AM

    I could not stop laughing about this article…It seems The writer is an analyst and a former ambassador to Yemen, Nigeria and Italy… this is hilarious analysis…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india?CMP=twt_gu

    Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India..

    I always had very high opinion about Pakistani media; but this is beyond imagination.. the fake cable sounds like Zaid Hamid stories…

    I am disappointed with Pakistani media…Recommend

  • Ramesh
    Dec 10, 2010 - 6:52AM

    Mr. Hilaly,
    Isnt it ironical that you are propagating conspiracy theories about India in a column written to educate people that Wikileaks is not a conspiracy. To think of it, you were a former diplomat. God save Pakistan. Please read the below link in Guardian which trashes the conspiracy theory dished out a select Pakistani media. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india.Recommend

  • Harish
    Dec 10, 2010 - 8:13AM
  • Manoj
    Dec 10, 2010 - 8:31AM

    Dear Mr. Zafar Hilaly,

    You are such a reputed and respected person from whom we always expect objective assessment of a particular issue.

    Person like you and Mr. Talat masood, are heard when ever you appear on Indian news channels, becuase we feel that your opinion is unbised and objective.

    But in the instant case, it seems you have shown undue urgency to arrive at the conclusion based on the fake wikileaks report.

    Kindly refer the below link to clarify the subject.

    thanks.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-indiaRecommend

  • khan
    Dec 10, 2010 - 8:33AM

    Hmmm…I wonder how much of Zafar Hilaly’s op-ed piece was based on the so-called ‘Wikileaks’ report (published in the Express Tribune, The News, Jang and other newspapers yesterday) purportedly linking Indian involvement in Balochistan and Waziristan, which has now turned out to be a fake news story and has been traced as originating from media sources closely linked to our ‘agencies’.

    Red faces, anyone?Recommend

  • ani
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:23AM

    Based on such astute analysis of some ‘leaks” this gentleman should be appointed to investigate the murder of Benazir, Zia, Zulfiqar and Liaqat. At the same time, he should help investigate the role of the Pakistani army and elite in mass murder of their then Bengali citizens in 1971. Oh I forgot ..each of those tragedies was the work of the foreign hand! Recommend

  • AJ
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:53AM

    Guess you fell for the hoax too!
    You may want to read this and clear your head up a bit:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-indiaRecommend

  • AJ
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:56AM

    Will you take back your statements now that your own paper has come out with a clarification and apology on this “fake wikileaks”
    http://tribune.com.pk/story/88268/pakistani-media-fake-wikileaks-cables-attacking-india-published/Recommend

  • charvaka
    Dec 10, 2010 - 10:41AM

    “Are we then lying to ourselves?”

    yes , you are. since ages.

    i think you were an ambassador of pakistan. no doubt with ambassadors like you , pakistan enjoys excellent image around the world.Recommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 11:47AM

    Ha ha ha dear writer you have an egg on your face.Pakistan is lucky to have such diplomats in the past.I have always enjoyed your funny stories on the panel with Arnab Goswami on Times Now.Dear Readers you could also enjoy him speaking regularly at Newshour on Times Now.I could not understand the urgency to write an article within 24 hours of a Fake Wiki Leak CableRecommend

  • Zafar Hilaly
    Dec 10, 2010 - 1:07PM

    Dear Sir,

    I was deeply disappointed with your paper and myself for being taken for a ride by what, on second thoughts, should have been seen as an obvious piece of dis-information. I refer of course to the fake WikiLeak documents purporting to be cables from the American Embassy in New Delhi published in your paper’s issue of 9th December. Although, it seems, that the Tribune and I were not the only ones to have been so duped there is no gain saying the fact that better and more intrusive investigation may have revealed them to have been fake. To that extent we were both remiss.

    As the article bearing my name in today’s issue of the Tribune was prompted entirely by what these fake cables contained and which now turn out to have been palpably false I would like you to publish this retraction and to convey to your readers my unreserved apologies.

    Your’s faithfully,

    Zafar HilalyRecommend

  • Majorlyprofound
    Dec 10, 2010 - 1:23PM

    Whoa!!

    Ij that you Mr Ex Ambassador to Nigeria?! Does your retracshun mean that you are now best phriends with India?!

    We also breathlessly await your wisdom on faked Moon landings, the Jews involved in 9/11 and Lochness monster.

    PS> Please to also write a column about how Pakistan can solve its economic woes by taking the money of the wealthy Nigerian Brince who sent you an email and that wonder pill advertised on email which can you know. ahem. Recommend

  • Farjad Tanveer
    Dec 10, 2010 - 1:56PM

    Shows the competence level of our bureaucracy really. And I thought Foreign Service Civil Servants were the smartest of the CSP lot. Recommend

  • Abhishek
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:00PM

    Majorlyprofound, you are Awesome. You do not how to get the message acrossRecommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 2:19PM

    A dose of John Pilger would give some insight into this institutionalized campaign of misinformation: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/10/war-media-propaganda-iraq-liesRecommend

  • Ronit
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:52PM

    This is crap… ‘The Guardian’ is owned by a Hindu-Jewish zionist, they are defending India. You don’t have to apologize for anything Mr Hilaly….no pun!!Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 10, 2010 - 2:54PM

    Well can’t blame the former Ambassader who jumped on the first opportunity he got to write something against India as he has been doing in other english dailies for a long time. Apology issued in time is well taken but the writer bracketed with Zaid Hamid has damaged his reputation. ZH videos are a source of entertainment and good laugh in India but lately not much is heard about him and we are surely missing this joker.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Dec 10, 2010 - 3:05PM

    @Farjad Tanveer,

    ” And I thought Foreign Service Civil Servants were the smartest of the CSP lot.”
    –as the article shows, Foreign Service Civil Servants are indeed the smartest of the CSP lot!!
    Anyways, its funny to see so much of Zafar Hilaly’s self-righous hot air dissolve into nothing!! :-)Recommend

  • Kevin Fernandes
    Dec 10, 2010 - 3:49PM

    Now that the very basis on which the columnist had a go at India and Indian Army as been discredited and proved to be fake, don’t it be wise and also ethical that ET pull these piece off the screen??? After all Mr. Hilaly has gone on to pick and past all accusations that have been made in that fake wikileak cableRecommend

  • Tony Singh
    Dec 10, 2010 - 4:41PM

    It happens. With ISI and Army running the show, what can one expect? Its case of crying wolf. now even if some nasty true story is published about India, who would believe it. And ISI – was that not supposed to be the best spy agency in world. So much for the rating agencyRecommend

  • Raakesh
    Dec 10, 2010 - 5:21PM

    The article is a conspiracy by India to defame Pakistan by not acting on the ground as mentioned in the article! Recommend

  • harkol
    Dec 10, 2010 - 5:36PM

    Oh, While on the subject, perhaps Hilaly can enlighten everyone about the Genuine Wikileaks cables about Pakistan army funding & supporting and declining to act against first rate terrorists like LeT etc??Recommend

  • ani
    Dec 10, 2010 - 7:01PM

    Folks this is reprehensible and shows the challenge those of us who want peace between India and Pakistan face. We have a long way to go to achieve peace. But have heart there are many brave Pakistani’s who are responsible and willing to expose spurious facts.

    Now we need a few brave Egyptians. Just yesterday Egypt accused Israel of sending sharks to its waters! Yes, trained sharks by the Mossad are accused of causing the attacks on tourists!! I know you are shaking your head. But have hope. Recommend

  • sid
    Dec 10, 2010 - 8:24PM

    Hahaha….funny people…i hope everyones learnt a lesson.. :-)Recommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 8:41PM

    WikiLeaks is not saying this. UK’s Guardian newspaper is. The Guardian newspaper is claiming this report is ‘fake’. Here is why you should disregard Guardian’s claim for being biased:
    http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/2010/12/10/guardian-uses-wikileaks-for-propaganda-pakistani-media-can%E2%80%99t/Recommend

  • an indian
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:42PM

    What this episode reveals, rather painfully, is that anti-India/Hindu prejudices have been drilled so deeply within Pakistani minds over the years, that even gentlemen such as Mr. Hilaly (who really ought to know better) instinctively jump at facts that seem to confirm their predetermined beliefs, even if these are completely false. India has its own weaknesses (which country doesn’t) but its ideals and practices, thankfully, are still largely secular. If only Pakistan was the same too… Recommend

  • harkol
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:59PM

    Nuke to Follow:

    Guardian’s claim for being biased

    Heh! Mr. Quraishi and M. Mazhari are paragon of unbiased reporting?

    What you miss here is Quraishi is justifying Pakistan’s ‘right to propaganda’, claiming that’s what Guardian has done!!

    The reality is otherwise – Guardian reported undisputed US cables, as leaked by WikiLeaks.

    All these articles about propaganda based on non-existent cables are beyond bias. They are fiction writing!!Recommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 11:21PM

    Boys,

    Give him some credit. He did argue with great passion, so what if he was an ambassador and an analyst. Recommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 11:53PM

    Priceless – such moments come but once in a lifetime – so please indulge us dear equally annoyed Pakistanis – will cherish this for a long time. Karkare asking for help from the americans???? Why have people bought into Zaid Hamid’s conspiracies – just because karkare is no more – the case against Col Purohit does not die – it was not as if he had all the evidence in his pathetic bullet-proof jacket (then again it probably explains why the jacket is missing – mmmm another conspiracy). Recommend

  • Talha
    Dec 11, 2010 - 12:29AM

    The man made a mistake, apologized and thats it.

    Now there is no need to drag it and use it as some source of happiness.Recommend

  • Dec 11, 2010 - 3:58AM

    I think, guys, since Mr. Hilaly has already apologised and acknowledged his mistake lets put a halt on all the criticism. At the same time, I strongly hope that Mr. Hilaly should play his role as a columnist to bridge the gap between the two neighbourly states by coming up with ideas containing a hope for peace.

    I think the biggest loser out of all this saga are the “messengers of hatred and staus quo”.Recommend

  • vtpcnk
    Dec 11, 2010 - 6:11AM

    looks like if you keep spreading propoganda one day you yourself will believe the lies.Recommend

  • Salman
    Dec 11, 2010 - 8:05AM

    I bet his next article will be: “Wikileaks IS a conspiracy theory created by the CIA – sorry about the confusion”.

    Recommend

  • Aurangya
    Dec 11, 2010 - 11:21AM

    Ambassadors don’t make good analysts. Esp. the retired ones. Everyone knows that these are political appointments. An enquiring mind is not a prerequisite for Ambassadors. Tribune should be more careful in describing anyone as an ‘analyst’. In the past we have seen hilarious wafadar and erstwhile Musharraf cronies carry on ‘analysis’ and ‘report’s in tribune. This will probably make them wiser.
    And Edroos, there is still no ‘evidence’ against India’s involvement in Balochistan.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Dec 11, 2010 - 1:37PM

    The Title of Article and the consequence! What a coincidence. If this is not “Conspiracy Theory” then what is?Recommend

  • Rajat
    Dec 11, 2010 - 1:44PM

    to all indians
    The editorial in The Nation has been hacked, DAMN, why do we have to stoop to new lows, the Pakistanis have done a mistake, said what is there in their hearts and apologized, Why dont we accept it sportingly. Come on people grow up, lets forget this unfortunate episode.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Editorials/10-Dec-2010/Indias-true-face/Recommend

  • abc
    Dec 11, 2010 - 2:55PM
  • Dec 11, 2010 - 10:21PM

    @Zafar Hialy

    In fact, the horrors perpetrated on Muslims by the Indian Army led by generals, in the mould of the war criminal Milosevic, are precisely what our intelligence reports relay. Are we then lying to ourselves?

    As the ‘leaks’ have turned out to be a pack of lies, looks like your ‘intelligence reports’ have been lying to you all the time.Can we now have a different posture towards ndia please.Recommend

  • M.Srinath
    Dec 12, 2010 - 12:30AM

    To be fair, Mr Hilaly comes across as a relatively liberal and forward-looking analyst at least by Pakistan standards. He clearly does not belong to the class of Ahmed Rashid, Ayaz Amir, Irfan Ahmed, Ayesha Siddiqa or Kamran Shafiq. I was mildly surprised to see him fall hook, line and sinker for a story concocted by a bunch of imbeciles. His expression of regret is a measure of his intellectual honesty and hence this piece may be deemed as an aberration. Also, the last word on wikileaks is yet to be pronounced. Recommend

  • harkol
    Dec 13, 2010 - 8:52PM

    Srinath:

    A person pretending to be sleeping, can never be woken up.Recommend

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