Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has dismissed national security adviser Mahmood Ali Durrani, former major general in the army, for "irresponsible behavior" and "lack of coordination" on questions concerning national security. He reportedly confirmed that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab - the only attacker to survive the massacre in Mumbai last November 26 - is Pakistani, without consulting the head of the government first.
The decision was made yesterday evening by the prime minister himself, but even before the official announcement, Raza Gilani launched weighty accusations against Durrani, who "embarrassed me and the country," for which reason "I have dismissed him with immediate effect." Later, Imran Gardaizi, the prime minister's spokesman, gave the official explanation: Mahmood Ali Durrani was dismissed because he "gave media interviews on national security issues without consulting the prime minister."
Durrani's dismissal has raised doubts and confusion: in the past, he played a leading role in the attempt to improve relations between India and Pakistan, and he was Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, a connection that made him unpopular with part of the country. Also, other Pakistani government officials, including the information minister, yesterday confirmed to the media that Ajmal Kasab is Pakistani, while Ali Durrani is the only one who has been punished. It is a further sign of the atmosphere of tension in Pakistan's political scene, especially between the prime minister and president Asif Ali Zardari.
The official admission on the part of Pakistan of the involvement of one of its citizens in the massacre in Mumbai is a first response to the accusations issued by India, according to which the masterminds and executors of the attacks are to be sought across its border. In recent days, the Indian government gave Pakistan an extensive and detailed report with evidence of the responsibility of "Pakistani elements" in the massacre, within which there is "reliable information on the responsibility of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET)."
Yesterday, the Indian newspaper The Hindu also published extracts from the telephone conversations between the attackers and the masterminds of the massacre, based in Pakistan, intercepted by security forces during the dramatic hours of the attack. From the transcripts, it emerges that the extremists were incited to kill the hostages "in cold blood" and to "fight to the death in the name of Islam." In one of these - a recording of the attackers at the Oberoi-Trident hotel - it is explained that the duty of the fundamentalists was to "inflict the maximum damage" and to "kill all hostages, except the two Muslims." The victims were shot execution style, while the extremists on the other side of the telephone listened to the development of the situation, cheering with the death of each hostage.