‘NSA sacking reveals cracks in Pakistani leadership’

January 8th, 2009 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Jan 8 (IANS) The manner in which Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) was sacked for owning up to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attacks reveals cracks in the top echelons of the country’s leadership, a leading English newspaper said Thursday.“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 an 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 News was the only newspaper to refer to it in its editorial.

The News likened Wednesday’s developments in Islamabad over the space of a few hours to a Tom Clancy thriller.

“It is not often that real life reflects a Tom Clancy thriller, but the events of Wednesday seemed to unfold like some racy potboiler,” the editorial said.

The events began unfolding late Wednesday afternoon with the NSA, Maj. Gen. (retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani telling private Indian TV channel CNN-IBN that Kasab was indeed a Pakistani national.

Later, other media outlets also ran the same story and attributed it to a Pakistani official, who in reality was Durrani himself.

Subsequently, foreign office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq was quoted as saying the same thing. According to media reports, Information Minister Sherry Rehman had also sent text messages to this effect to several journalists.

Late Wednesday night, it was announced that Durrani had been sacked for not taking Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani into “confidence” and for “embarrassing” the country with his revelations.

“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 the information minister 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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