Mahmud Ali Durrani

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Mahmud Ali Durrani
National Security Adviser
In office
11 May 2008 – 10 January 2009
President Asif Zardari
Pervez Musharraf
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani
Preceded by Tariq Aziz
Succeeded by Sartaj Aziz
(Appointment in 2013)
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
In office
5 June 2006 – 9 May 2008
Preceded by Jehangir Karamat
Succeeded by Husain Haqqani
Personal details
Born 1941 (age 76–77)
Abbottabad, NWFP
Citizenship Pakistan
Alma mater Pakistan Military Academy
National Defence University
Awards Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Military service
Nickname(s) General Shanti
Allegiance Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1961–1998
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major-General
Unit 25th Cavalry, Armoured Corps[1]
Commands Mil Secy to the President
1st Armoured Division, Multan
Pakistan Ordnance Factories
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

Mahmud Ali Durrani (Urdu: محمود علی درانی‎; born 1941), is a retired Pakistani two-star rank general officer, author of security studies, and a former National Security Advisor to the Pakistani government, serving from 2008 until his termination in 2009.[2]

Durrani had previously served as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.[3]

Early years and military career[edit]

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,[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

From 1992 to 1998 Durrani was the chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board.[8] Mahmud He retired as a Major General of the Pakistan Army.

Academic and diplomatic career[edit]

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.[8]

Durrani was appointed as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States by President Pervez Musharraf in June 2006, replacing another General Jehangir Karamat. They both belong to the Armoured corps of Pakistan Army, with Durrani being the third Armoured Corps officer to take the helms of ambassadorship at Washington, D.C.; the first one was Lt Gen Ejaz Azim, who was ambassador during General Zia-ul-Haq and Reagan era.[9]

Durrani was also called "General Shanti" by an Indian newspaper for his effort in trying to promote peace with India and Pakistan.[10]

National Security Adviser[edit]

Durrani was appointed National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in April 2008 at the behest of Asif Ali Zardari who at the time only held the post of co-chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (he became the President in September 2008). This was partly the reason why Durrani was fired from his job as NSA by Gillani for not "taking Prime Minister into confidence" about Kasab's nationality, even though Durrani had consulted the ISI chief who had in turn consulted the President Zardari before announcing that Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani national.[4]


His book India and Pakistan: The Cost of Conflict and the Benefits of Peace and Pakistan’s Security Imperatives: Year 2000 and Beyond 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."[7]

He is the father of three children.[8]


  1. ^ Khalid Hasan. "Karamat dismisses reports of becoming interim Pakistan PM" Daily Times, 4 April 2006
  2. ^ Humayun, Fahd (28 July 2016). "General perspective: Interview with Mahmud Ali Durrani". Dawn. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Qudssia Akhlaque, "Ambassador Durrani likely to be made security adviser" The News, 29 March 2008
  4. ^ a b Ayaz Amir. "A second Junejo in the making?" The News, 10 January 2009
  5. ^ Ayaz Amir. "For God's sake, leave" The News, 15 August 2008
  6. ^ John Gunther Dean."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.  Oral history at jimmycarterlibrary
  7. ^ a b Najam Sethi. "Editorial: Good decision, bad implementation" Daily Times, 10 January 2009
  8. ^ a b c New Pakistani Envoy Staunchly Denies Country Is Terrorist Breeding Ground The Washington Diplomat, September 2006.
  9. ^ Khalid Hasan. 'Durrani in, Karamat out' Daily Times, 23 March 2006
  10. ^ Khalid Hasan. "New Pakistan ambassador dubbed General Shanti" Daily Times, 3 April 2006

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Jehangir Karamat
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Husain Haqqani