Durrani sacking dominates Pakistani media (Lead)

January 8th, 2009 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Jan 8 (IANS) The sacking of Pakistani National Security Adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani for admitting that Ajaml Amir Kasab, the sole terrorist arrested during the Mumbai mayhem, belonged to this country dominated the Pakistani media Thursday, with more than one newspaper saying his removal reflected the divisions in the nation’s top leadership.Not expectedly, all English dailies front-paged the development but one chose to comment editorially.

“Weak coordination leads to Durrani’s sacking”, The Nation said in its report.

Quoting sources, it said Durrani was sacked for his “controversial statements” to the Indian media about Kasab’s identity.

“His disclosures created a lot of confusion about Pakistan’s stance on Mumbai incident.

“Sources further said that more heads could roll in the days to come as consequence of these developments… (the) confession (on Kasab) dealing severe blow to the image and credibility of the PPP-led coalition government,” The Nation reported.

“Indiscretion cost Durrani his job,” said the headline in Dawn.

“The late-night decision by Prime Minister Gilani to sack the highly influential member of his cabinet immediately sparked speculations about growing fissures within the ruling party, and perhaps among the various pillars of the establishment on the handling of crucial and sensitive matters of national security,” Dawn said.

Even before an official statement on Durrani’s dismissal was made public, a “furious” prime minister reportedly told some journalists that his national security adviser had “embarrassed me and the country” by going public with the report of Ajmal Kasab’s nationality without his permission.

“I have dismissed him with immediate effect,” he is reported to have said.

The News headlined its report “National security adviser sacked”, with the sub-head: “Mehmud Durrani accused of keeping PM in the dark on Kasab issue; confirmation of Mumbai gunman’s Pak nationality leads to fiasco”.

In an editorial, The News said the manner of Durrani’s sacking had revealed cracks in the top echelons of the country’s leadership.

“Some very serious differences at the highest level in Islamabad had been spectacularly laid bare within the space of a few hours,” The News said in the editorial, headlined “Cracks at the top?”

The timing of the editorial was also highly unusual because English newspapers in Pakistan normally take up to 48 hours to comment on an event.

“The revelation about Kasab’s nationality should never have been allowed to become such a contentious issue,” The News maintained.

Durrani’s sacking also “raises a host of questions”, it said.

“It would be fair to assume that someone of his rank would have access to sensitive information and would be in a position to confirm or deny precisely the kind of information that he did confirm on the evening of Jan 7.

“But did he or did he not clear the release of such clearly important information without consulting the chief executive?” the editorial wondered.

Pointing to the confirmations by information minister Sherry Rehman and the foreign office, The News asked: “Is there a gulf between the two top offices in the country, as some analysts have said? Or does that gulf stretch even beyond the two?

“Whatever the truth, even if it is simply a matter of protocol and coordination, the unfortunate fact is that the affair gives ammunition to those who say that the government is not speaking with one voice on an issue of utmost national and international importance,” the editorial maintained.

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