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Spoke too soon , Pak NSA chief Durrani

CNN-IBN
Jan 08, 2009 at 04:21pm IST

New Delhi: Heads have begun to roll in Pakistan as soon as certain quarters have begun to publicly accept a blatantly obvious fact that the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks were of Pakistani origin.

Pakistan's National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani who had confirmed that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested in the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks, is a Pakistani national, in his interview to CNN-IBN on Wednesday has been sacked by his country's Prime Minister.

Mubashir Zaidi, Dawn News Correspondent spoke to CNN-IBN on the issue.

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"Well, the reason given is that he issued a statement regarding Kasab's nationality without consulting the Prime Minister and the relevant quarters. That is the allegation that is being levelled. But certainly, that is the reason that he spoke to you (CNN-IBN) perhaps and to the press and leaked this information about Ajmal Kasab," said Zaidi.

Durrani had only stated the obvious but is paying the price in a closeted society where speaking the mind can be punishable if it embarrasses the authorities.

"Well, yes they are now confirming, the Foreign Office has told journalists that they are now confirming that Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani national. But what's happened was that the Dawn News reported earlier that Pakistan had done some preliminary investigations in which it has been established that Kasab is a Pakistani national, a resident of Faridkot and a son of Amir Kasab and his wife Noor Elahi. That is more or less what was there in the confessional statement of Kasab that was handed over to the Pakistani High Commission. So that account the Pakistani investigating agencies have corroborated to the fact that has been mentioned in the letter of Ajmal Kasab," Zaidi added.

Why was the Pakistani National Security Adviser fired if the official revelations match with Kasab's confessional statement/letter that Kasab is a Pakistani from Faridkot, anyway?

"Well, primarily, because has spoken to CNN-IBN and he has confirmed that Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani. But before that when the foreign office denied our (Dawn News's) story, the foreign office was no where in the picture. Our report said that an investigation report has been submitted to the Interior Ministry and to the Prime Minister's Secretariat by the Law enforcement agencies who have established that Kasab is a Pakistani. In that scenario, the Foreign Office was nowhere and they were caught by surprise. People approached them and they initially denied the reports saying that they cannot tell anything about the investigations as they continue, but then they started verifying where this leak has come from or where ever the story has come from. They were told by the Interior Ministry that yes, such a report existed and that it has received a report and the Prime Minister's Office as well."

Is this acceptance of Kasab's nationality not a turnaround for Pakistan?

"They have been saying that they are investigating and the confusion actually arose because there was no record of Ajmal Kasab in the national database which is maintained by the national database authority which is NADRA. So that created confusion but there were stories appearing in The Dawn and some other newspapers that parents of Kasab had recognised the photograph of Ajmal Kasab published in the newspapers. But then the internal and foreign media thronged Faridkot, the residence village of Ajmal Kasab. The residents of the village reacted and there were Law enforcement agency officials who stopped media from probing and covering the matter. That is also the time that they started investigating the matter on their own. The report has still not been made public although the admission has come. But after we (Dawn News) broke the story, the report was quietly submitted to the Interior Ministry with a copy to the Prime MInister, saying that in the initial investigations it has been established that Kasab is a Pakistani national," Zaidi added.

Pakistan's Information Minister Sherry Rehman had also earlier admitted Kasab could be Pakistani, then why is Durrani being singled out for punishment?

"Well, that is exactly what we are asking the government that the Information Minister had confirmed the same thing earlier, the Foreign Office (Mohammad Sadiq) acceptance came later. But we are told that to control the damage on the breach, they want to make the scapegoat of some one or the other. We are told that the goof up had taken place and the decision was to be taken by the Prime Minister and he was not aware that the Interior Ministry's report is lying on his table," said Zaidi.

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