Mahmoud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States and the current national security adviser, was fired after publicly acknowledging the surviving Mumbai attacker – Mohammed Ajmal Kasab – was Pakistani. According to a statement released by PM Yousaf Raza Gilani‘s office, Durrani was fired because “he gave media interviews on national security issues without consulting the prime minister.” The Associated Press reported, “The government’s acknowledgment that Kasab is Pakistani — something India has long alleged — followed weeks of its saying there was no proof and he is not in its national identification databases.” Yesterday, prior to Durrani’s statements, Pakistan’s foreign office also confirmed Kasab’s nationality as Pakistani, [as did Information minister Sherry Rehman].
The firing of Durrani garnered significant media attention yesterday and today. Although Indian news outlets interpreted the dismissal “as a reaction to his revelation of the truth about the gunman’s nationality,” Durrani said today that authorities, “including the powerful security agencies, had already decided to confirm the gunman was Pakistani,” reported Dawn. According to the news agency, Durrani added that he had been fired because “Gilani had not been informed about the decision to confirm Kasab’s nationality and the prime minister had ‘felt the need to exert his authority.'” The security chief asserted, “The prime minister happened to be ignorant. He was in Lahore and he didn’t know about it. He was out of the loop.”
News agencies today framed the development as a sign of the “deep fissures” within Pakistan’s government. Dawn noted in its coverage, “Durrani’s dismissal was the latest incident since the Mumbai attacks to raise questions about who is in charge in Pakistan.” The AP cited security analyst Talat Masood, who noted that Durrani’s national security appointment was controversial from the start because some considered him too pro-American, “so the government may have been looking for an excuse to get rid of him.” Masood added, however, that the development “definitely reflects on the confusion that prevails in Pakistan in the functioning of the government and the indecisiveness over how to deal with India.”
Several political figures issued statements regarding yesterday’s incidents today. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, demanded that the government “resign immediately and hold new elections in the country,” reported GEO Television. In a statement, Hussain reportedly said the conflicting statements from federal ministers and government officials were “very disappointing” and called Durrani and the foreign office assertions [confirming that Kasab is Pakistani] part of the U.S. agenda.
Durrani, on the other hand, has said “he had been doing what was best for peace.” He told news agencies, “I have no bad conscience. I was doing what is best for Pakistan, I was doing what is best for peace between India and Pakistan. If it doesn’t suit some people, then so be it.”