WikiLeaks spurned by Asian powers

Ahram Online, Wednesday 1 Dec 2010

With growing fears of the stability of Pakistan's nuclear programme publicised by the latest WikiLeaks release, Pakistan attempts to allay international concern

The leaked US documents Wednesday flaunted the West’s concern over Pakistan nuclear safety and revealed that the army may have been plotting to force the president out.

Pakistan dismissed fears regarding its nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands and issued a brief statement indicating growing international concern over WikiLeaks' decision to release the US cables.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said Western concerns about nuclear weapons were "misplaced and doubtless fall in the realm of condescension" as quoted in AFP. "There has not been a single incident involving our fissile material, which clearly reflects how strong our controls and mechanisms are."

The documents said that Pakistan's powerful army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, mused about forcing out President Asif Ali Zardari, who the cables show has made preparations for a coup or assassination.

According to one cable, the general told the US ambassador in March 2009 that he "might, however reluctantly," have to persuade Zardari to resign.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari’s wife, was assassinated in 2007. Zardari took power in 2008, returning Pakistan to civilian leadership after nearly a decade of military rule.

In other updates, the WikiLeaks website was blocked within China on Wednesday.

Attempts to access and were met with a note saying that the connection had been reset, a standard response for websites blocked by Chinese authorities.

It wasn't clear when the site was blocked, but a vast number of the sites are inaccessible behind China's firewall, including social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Justice, State and Defence Department lawyers are discussing whether it might be possible to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder and others under the Espionage Act, a senior defence official said Tuesday.

Republican representative Peter King of New York asked whether WikiLeaks can be designated a terrorist organisation.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told ABC News by e-mail that this latest release would expose "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil," as quoted in AP.

He told Time magazine that he targets only "organisations that use secrecy to conceal unjust behaviour."


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