WikkiLeaks has once again sent the diplomatic world akimbo.
One cable (#23657.25) from 2007, received from H. Pritchard, U.S. Junior Assistant Sub-Associate Charge d’Affaires, revealed a fractious and embarrassing incident in which the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, ridiculed the then-president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, to his face, causing an immediate response that was as undiplomatic as was the original Egyptian attack.
As talks dragged on during an Arab League meeting that year, Mubarak, who was seated next to Musharraf, and who had invited Pritchard and a small coterie of US diplomats to join his delegation as observers, leaned over to Musharraf and said, “Let’s cut this nonsense short and you and I go play some squash. I’ll beat you, guaranteed, despite the age gap.”
Musharraf, struggling to maintain diplomatic niceties, said: “Hosni, my dear fellow, excuse me but I would so kill you in a game that it is not even worth considering. The great genius of Pakistani squash runs deeply through my veins, old friend. Do hush up, I’m listening to the speeches.”
Mubarak, not one to shy away from a challenge, said: “That’s crap, and you know it. I haven’t seen much of the vaunted squash genius from Pakistan lately, you buffoon! Do you know I still play twice a week?”
“So I heard, and I also heard that you play only doubles, and threaten your partner with death if he should lose a game for you. We are not in Egypt now, old pharaoh, so where is your support when you need it?”
“You’ve heard wrong, as usual, just as your intelligence within your sad albeit mightily armed country is giving you a continual stream of faulty advice,” Mubarak said, jabbing his finger at Musharraf. “Use your eyes, use your wits, and you may yet succeed in running that mess of a country you claim to run. It’s like in squash -- eyes, wits and a smidgen of sense are the recipe – but do you have them? I think not!”
Pritchard, seated behind Mubarak, grew uncomfortable, and, squirming in his seat, said, “But …,“ only to have Mubarak swivel immediately and cut him off. “Shush, or you know what will happen!” Pritchard admitted in the cable that he recoiled, eyes agape at the warning….
“I would kill you in a game, Mubarak, and any roomful of Pakistanis would do likewise to a boatload of your best Egyptians, and there is no changing that, so quiet, please, will you?”
“Do not offend me, Musharraf! Do not irritate me to the point of anger, or you will see….” Mubarak growled at Musharraf, eying him stonily, while Musharraf glared icily back.
Pritchard leaned in once again, trying to restore calm: “Gentlemen, please, as allies and friends, could you please…”
“SHUT UP!” both Musharraf and Mubarak yelled, turning to Pritchard head-on, shouting within inches of his face. At that, Pritchard thought it would be wiser to leave, so he stood up, straightened his tie, bowed, and left.
“What a fool…,” grumbled Mubarak. “Perhaps a racquetball player, eh, Pervez?”
“Heh heh,” softly laughed Musharraf. “Yes, I suspect you’re right, Hosni old friend. Oh well…. Tea? The Darjeeling is nice….”