Mahmud Ali Durrani (born 1941) is a retired Pakistani army officer. He was the National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s administration until he was fired in January 2009 for “not consulting the Prime Minister while giving statements on foreign relation matters”. The matter in question was the acceptance by the Government of Pakistan of the Pakistani nationality of the sole surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks and was in the custody of the Mumbai police.
Durrani had previously served as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.He was replaced as ambassador by Husain Haqqani in May 2008.
Early years and military career
Durrani was born in 1941 in Abbottabad, which is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North-West Frontier Province) of Pakistan. He is an ethnic Pashtun from the Durrani tribe. After graduating from Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 in the 24th PMA Long Course (same batch as General Jehangir Karamat who later became the Army chief) and winning the sword of honour, he served in various command, staff and instructional posts for about 16 years. From 1977 to 1982 he was Pakistani Armed Forces attaché in Washington, D.C. He then served as military secretary to the president of Pakistan until 1986.
Durrani was the posted as the commander the 1st Armoured Division in Multan, and being the former MS to the president persuaded the then Army chief and president General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to witness the tank exercise in Bahawalpur desert on 17 August 1988. It was on its way back to Islamabad, that the C-130 carrying the presidential and higher military entourage crashed right after taking off from Bahawalpur airport killing everyone on board.
He was also suspected by, then United States Ambassador to India, John Gunther Dean for being extraordinarily insistent with President Zia to visit the demonstration. From many circles within Pakistan he is considered to be the prime suspect in the incident. Durrani could prevail on Gen Zia because he had been his most trusted military secretary. Indeed, after Gen Zia’s death, Begum Zia continued to repose trust in Gen Durrani, as narrated in Khaki Shadows by General Khalid Mahmud Arif the Chief of Staff (COS) under Zia, published in 2001.
From 1992 to 1998 Durrani was the chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board.Mahmud Ali Durrani retired as Major General of Pakistan Army.
Academic and diplomatic career
Durrani was also an advisor in the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, which he served from 2001 to 2004. After retiring from the Pakistani Army, he was actively involved in the peace efforts between Pakistan and India. As part of a process sponsored by the United Nations, he also worked with former senior officials from the United States, Russia and Iran to find a peaceful resolution to the Afghan crisis.
Appointed Ambassador Durrani Pakistan to the United States by President Pervez Musharraf in June 2006, to replace the last General Jehangir Karamat. Both belonged to the armored corps of the Pakistani army, with Durrani being the third armored corps officer to take Helms from the post of ambassador in Washington, DC, and was the first one to Lt. Gen. Ejaz Azim, who was the U.S. ambassador during Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and Reagan era.
Durrani was also called “Shanti” by an Indian newspaper for his efforts in trying to promote peace with India and Pakistan.
National Security Adviser
Durrani appointed national security adviser to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in April 2008 at the request of Asif Ali Zardari, who held only at the time as co-chair of the Pakistan People’s Party (became president in September 2008). This was partly why launched Durrani from his job as NSA by Gilani for not “take the Prime Minister in confidence” about sexual Kassab, and although Durrani consulted Prime ISI, which was in turn consulted President Zardari before the announcement that Kassab beautiful and was a Pakistani national.
Durrani is the author of several books and studies, including India and Pakistan: The Cost of Conflict and the Benefits of Peace and Pakistan’s Security Imperatives: Year 2000 and Beyond. The first one he wrote when he was part of United States-sponsored Balusa Group formed under Ambassador Shirin R. Tahir-Kheli at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.
The book argued that in the process of Indo-Pakistan normalisation, based on the Balusa Group’s recommendations, Pakistan should take the initiative in “re-engaging” India after the 1999 Kargil operation and subsequent negative events associated with Pakistan policies. Strikingly, the stages of engagement outlined in the book were followed closely by President Pervez Musharraf after 2001: “Preliminary Secret Contacts, Stage Two Secret Meetings, Summit, Follow-up Meetings.”
He is the father of three children.