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Zardari to quit or stay? Pak debates

Reports say the President, in Dubai for treatment, would not return due to intense heat from army.

world Updated: Dec 08, 2011 02:14 IST

Speculation is rife in Pakistan over the political future of President Zardari, who rushed overnight to Dubai for a medical check up as the media reported he had suffered a heart attack.

It was unclear under what circumstances the Pakistan president had to leave the country, with officials reiterating that the visit was a medical trip and he would be back in the country shortly.

“There are a lot of rumours circulating which are simply not true,” said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, who added that Zardari had gone for a routine medical check up.

A reports in The Cable — a blog of Foreign Policy magazine — had said Zardari would not return apparently giving in to intense heat put up by the powerful Generals.

Meanwhile, state-run Pakistan Television reported on Wednesday evening that the initial tests on President Zardari were “satisfactory” and that he would stay in Dubai till doctors at the American Hospital in Dubai gave him the all clear signal. A team of doctors from Pakistan have accompaned President Zardari to Dubai.

On Wednesday, chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was seen meeting Prime Minister Gilani. “If there was a problem like the one suggested by Foreign Policy magazine, would Bilawal be in Pakistan meeting the PM?” asked Fozia Wahab, a spokesperson for the ruling party.

“Its not as easy as being made out. Something is wrong somewhere,” said journalist Munizae Jahangir. Defence analyst Shuja Nawaz had earlier said that the President had been forced to leave the country on pressure from the military. The army spokesman did not comment on this.

Analysts ask why President Zardari had to go to Dubai when his doctors were based in Pakistan. Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said “If he really is unwell, then I pray for his health.”

In an interview with a local TV channel, federal minister Dr Asim Hussain who accompanied President Zardari to Dubai said “the president will be discharged in a few days.” Hussain commented that Zardari’s minor heart attack was brought on by stress and deteriorating health.

Dr Asim said that the president had been shifted to the ICU because he was getting “too many visitors.” “He will be here for a few days and then after the test results come in, he will be discharged,” said Dr Asim.