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'US official alerted me 'threat call' from India was fake'

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 12:46 IST
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Former National Security Adviser Maj Gen (retired) Mehmood Ali Durrani has said that he was first in the Pakistani government to be alerted by a US official about the "threatening call" from Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to President Asif Ali Zardari being a fake.

"I received a text message from a high American official that the Indian minister has not called President Zardari," said Durrani who was sacked last week for not taking Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani into confidence before confirming that the lone captured terrorist of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani.

Two days after the Mumbai attacks in November last year, President Zardari received a call which he claims was from Mukherjee in which he threatened of "dire consequences" if the masterminds of Mumbai attacks were not handed over to India.

New Delhi, however, says the minister made no such call to the president but the presidency staff says the call was from the Indian external affairs ministry phone number.

"I believe it was conveyed to the US that India had not made the call and a senior (US) official sent me a text message," said Durrani who is under severe criticism for being `America's man'.

But Durrani in two different interviews with ARY and GEO channels telecast late on Wednesday night refuted such allegations as "baseless and a common practice in Pakistan".

He said that he has excellent relations with the American officials but that are only for serving Pakistan. "I can't even think of being agent to any other country," he said, adding it's a mere propaganda by his opponents.

Talking about his statement regarding Kasab's identity, he said that Zardari knew that he was to make public the identity of Kasab. "The decision to sack me was taken in haste," he said, adding he has no complaints against the government.

Durrani said he had maintained good relations with the prime minister, but a specific lobby was involved in his dismissal.

He dismissed any chances of war with India saying: "It will not happen as both the countries can't afford it."