Ajmal Amir Kasab, outside the train station in Mumbai during the November terror attack.
Pakistan’s prime minister fired his national security adviser after he disclosed that the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist is a Pakistani citizen. The move came just hours after the government confirmed the Mumbai attacker was a Pakistani after more than a month of denials.
Mehmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor, was sacked by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani after he gave “a statement to an Indian news channel regarding Ajmal Kasab without taking him into confidence,” Geo News reported. Kasab is the only surviving terrorist behind the late November 2008 military assault on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai. More than 170 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in the assault that closed down the city for three days.
Kasab admitted to Indian police his 10-man team trained in Lashkar-e-Taiba camps in Pakistan with the support of the Inter-Service Intelligence agency and launched their attack from the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Other Lashkar operatives in Indian and Pakistani custody admitted to their involvement the assault.
“The prime minister said that Durrani’s statement had tarnished the country’s image,” the Pakistani news channel reported. A press release issued by the prime minister’s office described Durrani’s behavior as “irresponsible” for failing to take Gilani “and other stakeholders into confidence and lack of coordination on matters of national security, ” the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
The dismissal of Durrani occurred on the same day the Pakistani government admitted officially admitted Kasab was a Pakistani citizen. Information Minister Sherry Rehman and Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq both confirmed Kasab was indeed from Pakistan.
Senior Pakistani government officials, including Gilani, Durrani, and President Asif Zardari refused to admit Kasab was a Pakistani citizen, even though Kasab himself admitted he is from Pakistan and submitted a request for consular access. The request is still “under review” by Pakistan’s foreign office.
Kasab’s family and other Pakistanis from his home town of Fardikot identified him from pictures and said he was recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba. His father and neighbors were interviewed by Pakistani television and news outlets and confirmed he was indeed from Pakistan. His own father identified him and provided a nearly identical account of his son’s background as Kasab gave to Indian intelligence. “This is the truth,” Kasab’s father told a Pakistani news outlet. “I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”
Pakistan’s response was to attempt to bury the information. Security forces cordoned the village, removed Kasab’s family from their home and moved someone else in, and forced the townspeople to retract their statements.
Pakistan’s refusal to accept Kasab was from Pakistan and claims that the evidence provided by India on how Lashkar-e-Taiba plotted and executed the attack from Pakistan has infuriated Indian officials. Tensions have risen between the two countries. in late December 2008, Pakistan began redeploying troops from the Taliban insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province to the eastern border with India due to fears India might retaliate over the Mumbai strike.
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