Tuesday, 07 December 2010

Some Ramifications of Wikileaks' Revelations

Written by  Muhammad Zamir Assadi

Some of the world's commentators have declared the Wikileaks to be really dangerous diplomatic explosions — a 9/11 of the diplomatic world — some consider it a "horrible tsunami" of diplomatic relations; some are labeling it an earthquake that is responsible for doomsday.

Diplomatically, many of the allegations stated in the leaks are really horrifying in nature, but pragmatically, they mainly affect a few named individuals, the poor in some countries, such as Pakistan, and some U.S. diplomats. International personalities have been unveiled by these leaks as corrupt characters, such as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who stand accused of doing under-the-table deals, complete with individual kickbacks, in the name of the countries' oil companies; and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who had his international money scandals and incompetency basically confirmed by Wikileaks and was clearly exposed to Pakistanis as having self-enriching goals as President. Scandals and revelations have created troubles for these three in their home countries.

In the case of Zardari, the Pakistani President was already facing severe criticism from a hostile judiciary led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, rival political parties, and from the public when these scandals created more problems for him. Because of the scandals, financial aid for Pakistan from the international community was affected. When a devastating flood hit Pakistan, which badly affected the economy and infrastructure of the country, the government of Pakistan launched an appeal to the world community for financial assistance, but owing to the bad reputation of the Pakistani President, international help was sparse and did not help as much as was required. This situation creates troubles for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Shah Abdullah, King of Saudi Arab, said in Wikileaks' reports that "Zardari is a hurdle in progress of Pakistan." In Europe, Swiss courts are trying to prosecute Zardari for his improprieties; however, as a President he is demanding indemnity from these cases under article 248 of the constitution of Pakistan.

After Wikileaks' revelations, the members of the international community are unstable, like a man standing on one leg, until the tsunami passes. Heads of states are searching for more Wikileaks revelations because the leaks may decide their political futures in their own countries. These revelations could decide whether Zardari will be able to remain as President of Pakistan. After all, a leak showed that even the USA expressed its surprise that a man like Zardari is ruling Pakistan.

Diplomatically, the United States will likely face severe repercussions. The USA is in a condition that it has never faced politically or internationally. All countries will revise their political policies, especially relating to the USA. All the countries will adopt careful methods of dealing with American diplomats and administrations. Also, diplomats of the USA should be ready to face wrath and negative sentiments by the public in those countries that are on the hit list of Wikileaks as more secrets come out. People in Pakistan already have bad sentiments about U.S. policies regarding the "war on terror" and, especially, about Drone attacks. So when people in Pakistan find out through Wikileaks that U.S. diplomats were acting as spies, not as diplomats, a new wave of wrath is created in Pakistan about the USA. Diplomacy is a very respectable duty and U.S. diplomats were doing something else, even going so far as to play a mediation role in Pakistani politics. People of Pakistan are angry that the U.S. embassy has so much influence over Pakistani politicians.

These things create a more negative image of U.S. policies.

Also, Wikileaks presents an image of the USA as a country that is not capable of keeping sensitive secrets in unbreakable codes while they blame other countries for not keeping hold on information. One leak showed that the USA tried to get enriched uranium back from Pakistan that the United States sent Islamabad back in 1960s. Such an act by the United States is definitely horrifying for the national security of Islamabad. The Pakistani public and government now has every right to ask the USA why they think they are to be trusted with nuclear weapons and Pakistan is not. This is the real question that the USA should reply to in front of civilized people. After all, Wikileaks is a group comprised of only about one dozen people, and they have gained highly sensitive and secret information of American secret agencies and the Pentagon. To get the diplomatic cables code is not an easy task, and if a small group of people can perform this act on the USA, then what kind of information and installments are secure in the world?

In the same way, the leaks have changed the views about Pakistani politicians, and they are having a great impact on their credibility. It is of great concern for Pakistanis how their elected representatives act on national and international matters. It is the hot debate in Pakistan about these leaks. Pakistan is an independent state for its people practically, but the rulers of Islamabad still act like slaves to the United States. The rulers are always going to the American embassy for solutions of their problems. They always look toward the U.S. embassy for mediation and seek further orders.

The impact of Wikileaks information will be clear in the near future, and it will be revealed how much of a U-turn will take place in diplomatic relations.

Muhammad Zamir Assadi is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Photo of President Asif Ali Zardari: AP Images