LAHORE - The angry sacking of National Security Adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani by the Prime Minister further confirms reports about chinks in the armour of the PPP-led government. Gilani was so furious when he saw a report about Ajmal Kasab being a Pakistani citizen on a private TV network that he rang the channel to find out about the source.
When told that none other than Durrani was the one, he ordered his immediate sacking and asked the channel to run the story. Mr Durrani's admission that he was asked by his boss, the President, to go public on Kasab's identity added a new twist to the tale.
The same evening after watching the news of the sacking of his top adviser on television, Mr Zardari rang the Prime Minister requesting him to keep it on hold and back Durrani's leak. But Gilani refused to budge and ordered the notification nevertheless. Mr Gilani who is in a belligerent mood these days has reportedly confided in close friends that he would not compromise on the national interest.
Lately he has also been referring to the rules of business which bestow all powers on the Prime Minister under the 1973 Constitution despite Musharraf's 17th Amendment.
All is not well between Zardari and Gilani. Only last month the Prime Minister sacked his Secretary Establishment when he transferred a Grade-22 officer without his approval. Even the Information Minister after her SMSs to certain news agencies about Kasab's Pakistani identity has been politely reminded where the buck stops.
Kasab's origins were not a very well-kept secret as New Delhi and Washington were quick to claim that he was from Pakistan since the very day he was captured. When the London Observer scooped the story after its correspondent visited Kasab's village early last month and interviewed his father the world media including Pakistan's own quickly picked it up.
Despite this Islamabad was in a constant state of denial. Instead of sticking to President Zardari's original statement that he could not rule out non-state actors being involved in the Mumbai carnage, Islamabad decided to deny which was ultimately undeniable. In the final analysis, everybody from the President to the hapless Foreign Office spokesman had a lot of egg on their face thanks to the verbosity of a fly-by-night operator originally employed for services rendered. Ironically the national security adviser made the security breach. How secure can citizens of Pakistan feel when the state of affairs has hit such a rock bottom?
Quite a few of the perpetrators of 9/11 were subsequently found to be Saudi citizens but nobody blamed the Saudi government for being involved in any way. In the present case it was but natural that the Indians would leave no stone unturned to implicate Pakistan and its security agencies in the matter. Now New Delhi in unison with Washington has turned the screw full circle on Pakistan and that also at a time when Pakistan Army is bogged down on the western borders fighting the war on terror which majority of Pakistanis do not consider their own.
Perhaps it would have been a better strategy to make it clear to New Delhi that if concrete evidence was given nobody will be spared, with the addendum that the Pakistani state was not involved in any way. However, Mr Durrani's untimely disclosure has dealt a severe blow to Islamabad's credibility. New Delhi that has always maintained that the civilian government in Pakistan was not in control has further upped the ante as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed the official Pakistani agencies for the Mumbai carnage.
Mr Gilani's moves could also be interpreted as cosying up to the GHQ while distancing from the US. This is not quite in consonance with the policy being midwifed for Mr Zardari by the Haqqani-Durrani duo with the tacit backing of Washington. Whether the Prime Minister can pull it off defying his President and party president is too early to predict. However, it is certain that there is a clear divide in the civilian establishment. According to some insiders, apart from support from PML-N there will be takers of an assertive PM and a powerful parliament in other parties including the PPP.