‘NSA sacking has tarnished Pakistan’s credibility’

January 10th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Jan 10 (IANS) The sacking of Pakistan’s national security adviser for owning up the nationality of the sole terrorist arrested during the Mumbai carnage has tarnished the country’s credibility and raised questions about the government’s ability to keep top officials on a common platform, the country’s media said Saturday.The dismissal of Maj. Gen. (retd) Mehmud Ali Durrani “does little good to Pakistan. Its credibility, which is already not high, has been damaged further”, The News said in an editorial headlined “Truth and lies”.

The episode “shone a spotlight on the disarray at the apex of decision-making”, Dawn said in an editorial headlined “Kasab and Durrani”.

Daily Times agreed with Durrani’s sacking but said it “will reflect negatively on the functioning of the government”. The editorial was titled “Good decision, bad implementation”.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Wednesday sacked Durrani for keeping him out of the loop before publicly declaring that Ajmal Amir Kasab, captured during the Nov 26-29 Mumbai attacks, was a Pakistani citizen.

The dismissal has also led to fresh speculation about a deep rift on policy issues between President Asif Ali Zardari and the prime minister.

“Pakistan has, through a lack of communication or mismanagement or possibly both, managed to work itself into an even tighter spot than before. Perhaps, from all that has happened, it will realise that the truth is often a wiser strategy than lies,” The News maintained.

“Islamabad needs to work out how best to compensate for the damage that has already been done. Its relations with India has now become a little more complicated,” The News editorial added.

Noting that it would be “easier than before” for Indian officials to claim Islamabad’s assertions are not necessarily accurate or that it is not willing to come clean on the Mumbai attacks, The News said: “So far there has been a lack of any great display of acumen by the Islamabad leadership.

“Kasab’s identification as a Pakistani national makes it all the more imperative that it proceed with good sense, make no attempt to hide facts that are bound to surface anyway and do what is possible to restore its standing as a responsible nation ready and willing to fight the scourge of terrorism,” The News said.

According to Dawn, Durrani’s sacking “has raised fresh questions about the government’s ability to keep its top officials on the same page at the same time”.

This apart, Gilani “has sent an unfortunate signal that the messenger is more important than the message”, it added.

The editorial argued that once Kasab’s nationality had been determined, the government should have chalked out a “clear plan” for making an announcement and shared this with every official likely to face questions from the media.

“And once Durrani pre-empted the government and shared the information on Kasab with the media, what was to be gained by dismissing him on the spot?” the editorial wondered.

Noting that in principle, Gilani had “every right” to dismiss anyone in his government who had lost his confidence, Dawn said: “It is odd to fire the national security adviser for causing ‘embarrassment’ to the PM by stating the truth.”

According to Daily Times, the government “is not perceived as a coherent outfit and it must make efforts to disperse this impression”.

At the same time, it noted that the meetings between Zardari and Gilani after the Durrani episode “indicate that matters have been sorted out and there is no serious prospect of the misunderstanding creating any big rift in the short term.

“Indeed, if there was ever any process sidelining the prime minister, it should now come to an end,” the Daily Times editorial added.

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