- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
A hoax telephone call almost sparked another war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan at the height of last month’s terror attacks on Mumbai, officials and Western diplomats on both sides of the border said today.
Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, took a telephone call from a man pretending to be Pranab Mukherjee, India’s Foreign Minister, on Friday, November 28, apparently without following the usual verification procedures, they said.
The hoax caller threatened to take military action against Pakistan in response to the then ongoing Mumbai attacks, which India has since blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), they said.
Mr Zardari responded by placing Pakistan’s air force on high alert and telephoning Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, to ask her to intervene.
But when Dr Rice called Mr Mukherjee, he said that he had not spoken to Mr Zardari and that his last conversation with Shah Mahmood Qureishi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, had been quite civil.
"It’s unbelievable, but true," said a Western diplomat familiar with the frantic diplomatic exchanges that eventually resolved the misunderstanding.
"It was a little alarming, to say the least."
UPDATE: Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani information minister, says the call was "processed, verified and cross-checked under an established procedure":
Without naming [leading Pakistani newspaper] Dawn, which carried the story in its edition of Dec 6 titled ‘A hoax call that could have triggered war’, a statement quoted the federal minister as having said, while commenting on reports in a section of the press, that it was not possible for any call to come through to the president without multiple caller identity verifications.
The Nov 28 call by someone from New Delhi who posed himself as Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, she insisted, had also been processed, verified and cross-checked in accordance with an intricately laid down procedure.
“In fact the identity of this particular call, as evident from the caller line identification device, showed that the call was placed from a verified official phone number of the Indian ministry of external affairs”, Ms Rehman said.