Kasab identified as Pakistani after consultations

Islamabad: Former National Security Advisor Mahmud Ali Durrani, who was sacked for identifying the lone surviving Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab as a Pakistani has said the decision was made after consultations with all top officials, including the ISI chief.

"I am not a fool. Before giving the statement, I consulted all relevant quarters," Durrani said.

Durrani was fired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani shortly after he identified Kasab as a Pakistani, said he made the decision on his own but after consulting all important officials, including ISI top boss, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

"I did not issue the statement on his (Pasha`s) directive. However, I did consult him and there was an understanding between the two of us that the identity of Kasab should be revealed as most people were already aware of it," Durrani, who was sacked in January 2009, told Dawn News.

In reply to a question whether he felt he was made a scapegoat, Durrani said Gilani was a "peer saint" ? a reference to the premier`s links to a spiritual family ? who issued a "royal order without even listening to me".

Gilani issued the order for his removal on hearsay and did not even speak to him, Durrani said.

He contended Gilani had no powers to remove him as only the President could do so.

A furious Gilani had announced the sacking of Durrani while speaking to a TV news channel on January 7, 2009, hours after Durrani acknowledged that Kasab was a Pakistani.

Asked if he spoke to President Asif Ali Zardari after his ouster as he was appointed by Zardari, Durrani said the President gave him a phone call.

He refused to divulge the details of his conversation with Zardari.

Talking about a secret US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks that said Durrani handed over the notes of an in-camera session of parliament in 2008 to US officials, he said it was incorrect that he had handed over any documents to then American envoy Anne Paterson.

Referring to another US cable released recently by WikiLeaks that contained references to a 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Durrani denied that he had accused the ISI of having a hand in the incident.