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Pakistan caught off-guard by WikiLeaks expose

Monday November 29, 2010 05:12:58 PM, Awais Saleem, IANS

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Islamabad: The WikiLeaks expose of US classified documents has caught the Pakistan government in an awkward position as the political parties termed it an "eye-opener".

Pakistani foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit condemned the WikiLeaks expose and said Islamabad was in the process of analysing the information contained in the documents.

"It is very clear that we will never compromise on our nuclear capability," he said.

Basit said the US administration had already informed Pakistan about these documents and their contents.

"However, we are still looking at the information given in these documents," he told Dunya TV.

According to the documents, since 2007 the US has been engaged in secret efforts to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani nuclear reactor over the fears that the material could be used in an illicit nuclear device.

Basit said Pakistan could never allow any foreign country to intervene in its nuclear programme.

"The context of these documents show very clearly that Pakistani leadership knows very well how to defend its nuclear programme. We have very well guarded our national interests and will keep on doing so in the coming years," said Basit.

In one such document, Saudi king Abdullah termed Zardari the "biggest obstacle in the country's progress". The papers also carried "reservations of the US about Pakistan's nuclear programme and the war on terror in Afghanistan".

Fozia Wahab, spokesperson of the ruling Pakistan People's party (PPP), said: "Similar accusations have always been levelled against our nuclear programme but nothing has been proven. This is useless chatter and I don't consider it worthy of a comment."

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, when questioned about the explosive contents, said: "Every other day, there are media reports but ground realities are different. I can't comment on media reports and the foreign office has already given a policy statement on it."

Khwaja Asif, a parliamentarian of the main opposition party PML-Nawaz, however, had a different take on the entire episode.

"When the rulers are involved in corrupt practices themselves, it becomes very difficult to shield it from public glare," he said.

Former federal minister Shaikh Rasheed said "the comments of the Saudi king about President Zardari may be new for the general public but he (Zardari) himself is aware of it".

"Zardari has made all possible attempts to change this mindset about him but has failed miserably," he said.

Political expert Hasan Askari Rizvi said the WikiLeaks act "should be looked at rationally instead of reacting emotionally. These contents reflect the background discussions and thinking of certain officials at some given time, but do not necessarily reflect the policy of the US government".

 

 

 

 

 

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