- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday fired the country’s national security adviser after several officials confirmed that the lone survivor among the Mumbai attackers is a Pakistani.

“It has been confirmed that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani national,” foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said in a statement. This was also confirmed by Information Minister Sherry Rehman.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani told an Indian television channel that Kasab could be a Pakistani national.

In the days after the Nov. 26-29 attack in India’s financial capital, Pakistani officials repeatedly denied there was any evidence linking the surviving attacker to Pakistan. Wednesday’s reversal comes two days after India presented Pakistan with a dossier of evidence to prove the 10 attackers came from Pakistan.

SEE RELATED VIDEO: Mahmud Ali Durrani during an Editorial Board at The Washington Times last year.

The dossier included transcripts of phone conversations between the attackers and their handlers guiding them and giving them pep talks during the raids.

While Kasab was captured alive after his deadly attack on Mumbai’s main train station, the other nine men were killed in the attacks at two luxury hotels, a cafe and a Jewish center. More than 160 people were killed.

Pakistani media reports Wednesday and particularly the statement of the national security adviser pushed the government into an embarrassing situation, with foreign, interior and information ministry officials giving conflicting reports about Kasab.

The interior and foreign ministries had earlier rejected media reports. The foreign ministry at first said it had not been established that Kasab is Pakistani. However, within a few minutes it issued another statement confirming Kasab’s identity as a Pakistani national.

Hours later, Mr. Durrani became the first victim of the confusion when Mr. Gilani’s office announced that he had been fired “for his irresponsible behavior for not taking the prime minister and other stakeholders into confidence and lack of coordination on matters of national security.”

A senior government official said Mr. Durrani spoke about Kasab without consulting the prime minister first.

Security analyst Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general, said official confirmation of Kasab’s nationality is a positive step that will be welcomed by the international community.

“Official confirmation about Kasab’s identity will convince others that Pakistan is prepared and serious in cooperating in Mumbai attacks investigation,” Mr. Masood said. “Pakistan shall not shy away from confirming the identity of other Mumbai attackers if they were also Pakistanis.”

Indian officials have shown increasing frustration about what they see as Pakistan’s unwillingness to fully investigate the attacks.

In New Delhi Wednesday, India said it would keep all options open to dismantle “terror outfits,” Reuters news agency reported.

“I say we are keeping all options open,” Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Times Now television. Hours earlier Defense Minister A.K. Antony had made similar comments.

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