Leading Pakistani newspapers acknowledged on Friday they were hoaxed after publishing reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables that contain crude anti-Indian propaganda.
The reports, which featured prominently in several papers on Thursday, cited alleged U.S. diplomatic cables as confirming many right-wing Pakistani views and conspiracy theories about the country’s archenemy India and the disputed Kashmir region.
Much of Pakistan’s media toes a pro-military, anti-Indian line, which was reflected by the papers’ extensive coverage of the fake memos.
The instigators of the hoax remain unclear, though the material appeared to have originated on a news website that features anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani articles.
The Express Tribune, which partners with the International Herald Tribune in Pakistan, said it “deeply regrets” publishing the story. Other papers acknowledged the reports were false.
Still, Jang, which had carried the fake WikiLeaks on its front page, made no mention of the affair on Friday, while The Nation daily ran an editorial saying the hoax had exposed “India’s true face.”
The WikiLeaks disclosures have dominated Pakistani media since they appeared, with pundits highlighting elements that appear to confirm their stance on the country’s military and political leaders, as well as the influence of America and other countries on Pakistan’s internal affairs.