MYOPIA? PARANOIA? BOTH?

These days (December 2010) Wikileaks and Assange are the topic of almost every discussion. Some take the time out to actually read what the leaks talk about while others depend on being told what is in them. Assange’s motives for leaking classified and not so classified documents is questioned, hailed and/or condemned according to the individual‘s personal views about transparency and secrecy.

WikiLeaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiLeaks) but it seems that everyone who is anyone has an opinion (a very strong one) about the REAL reason of the recent US diplomatic document leak by that shadowy group. Julian Assange, the man behind this worldwide furor is in hiding; many servers have removed his website and it was the victim of hostile cyber attacks believed to have been generated in China. Sweden has charged Assange with sexual harassment and rape, while Interpol has issued a “red notice” to 188 countries; he has received death threats and no one knows where he is living at the present.

When Wikileaks first hit the airwaves, everyone (except Jon Stewart) was aghast at the magnitude of the fall out vis-à-vis US diplomacy. The general drift is that since US diplomatic secrecy is compromised, in future, US diplomats will find it harder to gain the trust of foreign heads of state. The basic aim of diplomacy is to further the aims of ones own country. Because of the fear that their words may become headline news some day, heads of state will not speak as openly and honestly to US diplomats as they did in the past, giving their candid opinion about world affairs/leaders and/or compromises they may be prepared to make in order to gain favors from the USA. For example, the Yemeni President is quoted as saying he would allow the US to bomb Yemeni citizens as long as Yemen’s Government gets the credit for the bombings; or the blunt assessment about the personality of the Italian PM and the French President; or about Muammar Gaddafi  and his blonde nurse.

Diplomatic cables are secret for a very valid reason; they are the assessment diplomats give their Government about the countries they have been assigned to. Frequently these assessments are none too flattering to the host country or its leadership, which is why they have to be secret. Wikileaks’ “shared” over 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables with the world and because of that US diplomats will have a more difficult, if not almost impossible task working in the countries where their unflattering opinion of either the country at large or the head of that country can be read by anyone and everyone as the content of the leaked cables “includes diplomatic analysis of world leaders, an assessment of host countries, and discussion about many international and domestic issues, from the Middle East to nuclear disarmament, from the War on Terror to attempts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_diplomatic_cables_leak

Listening to TV in the USA the anger against Julian Assange is palpable. Even Sarah Palin, in her infinite wisdom, tweeted that his actions were ‘treasonous’. It was eventually pointed out to her that since Assange was not a US citizen his actions could not be labeled as ‘treason’. Since the leaked documents belong to the US Government; and since the US, overtly or covertly, is trying to lay its hands on Julian Assange, we may be correct in assuming that the USA was the target of the Wikileaks and that the US Government is not at all happy about it. They have already started damage-limitation exercise to contain and control the effect of the leaks on ties with allies. Yes, the US Administration is seriously worried about the effect of the leaks.

Imagine my surprise when I first came across the “news” and views churned out by the Pakistan Conspiracy Theorists. From what I have read online, please correct me if I am wrong, they believe that the full thrust of the Wikileaks is against the Muslim World in general and Pakistan in particular. Their considered opinion is that the leaks were engineered by the US so they could have an ‘excuse’ to get out of Afghanistan. If that does not stick, they have another ‘reason’ for the leaks. They are putting out the idea that the Wikileaks are aimed at the Muslim world (with US connivance, of course) and have an anti-Muslim bias. The sole aim of the Wikileaks is to create an atmosphere of hate and mistrust between Muslim countries. I am guessing the reason for this last opinion is due to the leak quoting the Saudi King urging the USA to bomb Iran. I am still trying to work out whether they are annoyed the story came out or because the ‘advice’ was ignored?

Everything else in the Wikileaks that does not fall in line with their line of thought is ignored. They ignore the fact that it is mostly Muslim countries that are a hotbed of trouble in one shape or another for the USA; and since the leaked documents were from US diplomats informing their Government about what they heard and saw in these countries, it is not surprising that they were uncomplimentary. Totally unrelated to it’s size and/or importance, Pakistanis believe they are the center of the world. If something bad happens, it is directed at them; if something good happens, it is because of them too!

Maybe the Conspiracy Theorists should direct their attention as to why a mentally unstable person was elected to the highest office in the country. A news report (26 Aug. 2008 The Telegraph) states that Mr. Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan People’s Party, was diagnosed (by a Psychiatrist) with a range of psychiatric illnesses, including dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. His long imprisonment is said to have been the cause of the mental/psychiatric illnesses.

Maybe the Conspiracy Theorists should turn their attention to the laws being shaped in Pakistan and wonder why Pakistanis who send jokes about Asif Zardari by text message, email or blog risk being arrested and given a 14-year prison sentence. This new law was announced on 21 Jul 2009 by the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, who said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been asked to trace electronically transmitted jokes that “slander the political leadership of the country” under the new Cyber Crimes Act.

Maybe the Conspiracy Theorists of Pakistan should pay more attention to Saudi King Abdullah’s remark (when speaking of Asif Zardari and Pakistan)  “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body”; or as Viqarunnissa Noon famously said (about the then Government) “When the head has lice, the body cannot be clean.” Before we point fingers at others for our woes should we not first clear our head of “lice” or cut off the “rotten” head altogether?

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