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Thaw At Last
Kasab our man: Pak
Top security adviser Durrani sacked
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

After initial hesitation, Pakistan’s foreign office on Wednesday confirmed that Ajmal Kasab, who is in Indian custody for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks, is a Pakistan national.

National security adviser Mahmud Durrani was the first to break the news that investigations into the information provided by India have proved that Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor among the band of Mumbai attackers, is a Pakistan national.

The Pakistan foreign office initially expressed lack of knowledge but later confirmed the report, but declined to give details confining itself to remarks that investigation is continuing.

Pakistan federal information minister Sherry Rehman in a text message to AP also said an investigation had revealed that the lone-surviving Mumbai gunman is a Pakistani citizen, as India had alleged. Earlier, Durrani had also confirmed that interrogation of at least two individuals, Zarar Hussain and Lakhvi had established that they had links with the attackers.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Wednesday sacked National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani, apparently for revealing matters relating to Pakistani investigation on Mumbai attacks without taking the Prime Minister into confidence.

An official notification said the Prime Minister has removed Durrani but gave no reasons. However, talking to Geo News late in the evening here, Prime Minister Gilani said Durrani had given a statement to an Indian news channel regarding Ajmal Kasab without taking him into confidence.

The Prime Minister, who spoke in an angry tone, said Durrani’s statement had tarnished the country’s image. Asked to confirm the report, Durrani told the channel that he had yet not received orders of his removal. “The Prime Minister might have issued verbal directive,” he added. Informed sources said Durrani had been speaking to President Asif Zardari and must have consulted him on leakages about such vital information. Analysts said the dramatic decision also reflected persistent reports about differences between the President and the Prime Minister.

The PML-N spokesman said the revelations about investigations and reflected a “disjointed” state of decision-making in the country. He said the Prime Minister was within his right to take action against Durrani if the latter had acted with the knowledge of only the President without taking the Prime Minister into confidence.

Durrani, a retired major general, served under Gen Musharraf as Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA. He was named as national security adviser to the Prime Minister soon after Gilani took oath.

The common perception at the moment was that the USA had manipulated the appointment, while Durrani acted as a strategic bridge between the new government and the USA. Durrani was general officer commanding (GOC) when military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq’s plane crashed on August 17, 1988, minutes after it took off from Bahawalpur airport. It also carried crates of mangoes gifted by Durrani to Gen Zia. Durrani remained subject of many conspiracy theories after the crash.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, apparently annoyed by

Islamabad’s persistence on a state of denial, on Tuesday upped the ante by directly accusing the Pakistani intelligence agencies of involvement and accusing Pakistan of pursuing terrorism as an instrument of the state policy. Pakistan emphatically rejected these allegations and blamed India of indulging in hostile propaganda.

Many analysts say an admission about nationality of Ajmal Kasab and indirect leaks regarding links of some detained militants with the Mumbai attacks would help rebuild confidence in Pakistani claim that it is serious in investigating individuals and organisations being accused of complicity in acts of terrorism. It is also expected to reduce tension between the two countries and relieve the country of immense international pressure to cooperate with India in reaching out to truth.

A team of mediapersons and cameramen of a Pakistani private TV channel Geo also showed video clips of Ajmal’s home, Faridkot village in southern Punjab in which many residents confirmed the 22-year young man belonged to the village but had left his parents four years ago to join the militant groups. He visited the village about six months ago and sought his mother’s blessings for a “sacred mission” he was soon to embark. The channel received lot of flak for the “unpatriotic” act of joining Indian propaganda machine in maligning Pakistan.



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