Speculation on Zardari's future continues despite US assertion
Dubai/Islamabad, Dec 8: Speculation about Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's future continued to run rife today despite US assertion that "a silent military coup" against him was unlikely.
The 56-year-old Zardari continued to be under treatment in a Dubai hospital for a heart condition amid reports that he was stable and may return home over the weekend.
That, however, did little to dampen rumours and speculation that he had suddenly left Pakistan under some kind of safe passage deal, fearing a coup by the military which is said to be upset with him over a number of issues, the latest being the secret memo handed to Obama administration, seeking its intervention to avert a military takeover.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar today said Zardari's condition is stable and he will undergo some more medical tests in Dubai.
"The President is stable, comfortable and is resting. Initial tests and investigations have been within normal range while further tests will be carried out," Babar said in a text message sent to journalists.
In a subsequent message sent this evening, Babar quoted Zardari's personal physician as saying that the President had been "shifted a short while ago from ICU to the normal hospital room in Dubai where he is resting to recuperate".
Zardari is admitted at the American Hospital in Dubai after he flew out from Islamabad following heart complications on Tuesday.
In Washington, downplaying Zardari's sudden departure from home, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the US had no reason to believe that his trip to Dubai was political.
"Our belief is that it's completely health-related," Toner said at a regular daily briefing in Washington.
Asked about reports in Pakistan and a section of the US media that Zardari was on his way out, Toner said: "No concerns, and no reason to believe" that a silent military coup was in the offing in Islamabad.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expects the ailing President to return to work after treatment, refusing to respond to rumours he may be forced to step down.
"We have no reason to speculate about that," Clinton told reporters after NATO talks in Brussels.
"The information that we have is that he has sought medical treatment for a number of medical challenges and we wish him a speedy recovery.
"And certainly we expect that he will receive the treatment he is seeking and then be able to return in full health to his duties."
Zardari has been under severe pressure since Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public a secret memorandum that unveiled a scheme to rein in the Pakistani military and sought US help to prevent a military coup in the aftermath of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
Despite the government's vigorous denial of reports that Zardari might resign or not return to the country, rumours continued to make the rounds in Islamabad today.
Several journalists and columnists received an email that said Zardari intended to resign from the email account of Babar Awan, a senior Pakistan People’s Party leader who is a close aide of Zardari. Though the email mentioned Awan's email ID and phone numbers, subsequent inquiries revealed that his account had been hacked and used to send out a fake email.
A government official told the media that Awan's email account was hacked for the "malicious and intentional dissemination of a rumour aimed at destabilising democracy".
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 9 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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