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WikiLeaks gets muted political response in Pakistan

Criticism at home of Pakistan’s major political players is likely to be quelled by the fact that the government and its political opposition have been embarrassed equally.

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The cables also reveal the extent of his paranoia about possible assassination. He made preparations for his Pakistani People’s Party to be led by his sister Faryal Talpur, and asked the UAE to allow his family to live there after his possible death. Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto, was killed in a suicide bomb attack in December 2007.

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Suspicions confirmed

Some ”revelations” are less surprising, such as Zardari’s government signing off on controversial drone attacks while simultaneously condemning them as a breach of sovereignty, confirming analysts’ suspicions. "I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it,” he was quoted as saying in a cable.

Zardari’s political opponents may find it hard to extract mileage from the revelations, however. Opposition leader Mr. Sharif, who plays on anti-Americanism to cement his base with the Pakistani right, repeatedly reassured Ambassador Patterson of his “pro-American” credentials in a February 2008 cable. And according to the Guardian newspaper, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the country’s largest Islamist party, hosted a dinner for the ambassador where he solicited her backing for becoming prime minister, and made it clear that his votes were “up for sale.”

The cables affirm drawing-room chatter and rumors at the time – especially concerning Pakistan’s political classes, as well as their relationship with the US and with each other, according to Mr. Rais.

Reaction to the revelation that small teams of US special forces have been operating in the country at the invitation of the Pakistan Army has also been limited, partly because of the Pakistani media’s self-censorship.

“Those who are against militancy in Pakistan aren’t very concerned at who does the killing,” Professor Rais says, adding that he information will be used by militants and their sympathizers for propaganda purposes.


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