Islamabad, Jan 12 (IANS) President Asif Ali Zardari has left Pakistan and gone to Dubai, a city where he was hospitalisied last December over a heart ailment, amid a stand-off between the political leadership and the powerful military.
Geo News reported that Zardari left for Dubai on one-day private visit while BBC report said that the president would be attending a wedding and returning to Pakistan.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar also said Zardari would return to Pakistan in 24 hours, reported Xinhua. It was not clear at what time would the 24 hour period end.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Wednesday asserted his authority by dismissing defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired lieutenant general widely seen to be close to army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Gilani also accused the army chief and ISI chief Lt.Gen. Shuja Pasha of violating the constitution by submitting their replies to the Supreme Court without the government approval in the case over a memo sent to Washington that said President Zardari feared a military take-over following last year’s killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media arm, took a serious view of Gilani’s statement and warned “This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”
“There can be no allegation more serious than what the prime minister has levelled against (Kayani and Pasha) and has unfortunately charged the officers (with) violation of the constitution,” ISPR said.
In a curious side-show, the Supreme Court Tuesday rapped the government for not acting in corruption cases against politicians, and warned that Gilani himself would lose his parliamentary seat if he failed to re-open graft cases against Zardari.
A month back, Zardari had abruptly left for Dubai from where he returned Dec 18 last year, putting to rest rumours of a coup in Pakistan.
The 56-year-old president arrived at the port city of Karachi after he spent nearly two weeks in Dubai.
Zardari’s sudden departure then had led to intense speculation with Gilani telling the Senate that an ailing president feared for his life in Pakistan hospitals.
There had been a lot of confusion over Zardari’s health.
Initial reports said he had flown out of Pakistan Dec 6 over a heart ailment. While Pakistan Army doctors had declared him fit, a US-based magazine said he had suffered a minor heart attack.
Later, some media reports said Zardari had suffered a stroke that caused bleeding in the brain and facial paralysis.