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Pakistan's Leaders Debate 'WikiLeaks' Response

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's leadership convened on Friday for a second day -- reportedly to work out a strategy on the embarrassing WikiLeaks disclosures, which are being called "Cable-gate" here. They portray deteriorating relations between the civilian government and the powerful army.

But at the close of the meeting there was no mention of WikiLeaks, though the government insisted there was "complete unanimity" among the state institutions.

The classified cables provide a glimpse into the competing personalities inside Pakistan and how they view one another.

Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani comes across as thoughtful but bordering on the contemptuous of the country's civilian rulers. President Asif Ali Zardari tells a visiting American delegation "we won't act without consulting you," a remark portrayed in the local media as a president perhaps too eager to please his U.S. ally. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif also repeatedly tells the U.S. embassy he is "pro-American," and thanks Ambassador Anne Patterson for "arranging" the appointment of Kayani as Army Chief.

Interference in Pakistani affairs has long been a charge leveled against the Americans. But, Patterson writes, "the fact that a former prime minister believes the U.S. could control the appointment of Pakistan's chief of army staff … speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here."

(Julie McCarthy is an NPR foreign correspondent based in Pakistan.)

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Julie McCarthy has spent most of career traveling the world for NPR. She's covered wars, prime ministers, presidents and paupers. But her favorite stories "are about the common man or woman doing uncommon things," she says.