7 December: Pakistan's embattled
president, Asif Zardari, has been hospitalised in Dubai with a heart condition,
triggering speculation that it could be used as an excuse for him to step down
amid growing pressure from the military.
government adviser said Zardari had suffered a "minor heart attack",
but this was at odds with the official spokesman for the president, who said
the president had gone for routine
tests for a pre-existing heart condition.
of a coup or a resignation forced by the military consumed the media and the
internet, fuelled by an American media report that said Zardari was
"incoherent" on Monday night during a telephone conversation with
son and political heir-apparent, Bilawal, met prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani
in Islamabad, adding to media hysteria about imminent change. Bilawal is
chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.
speculation hit a receptive, febrile political atmosphere, rocked by a
diplomatic scandal and the recent jolt to relations with the US over the deaths
of Pakistani soldiers at a border checkpost.
has been ruled for half its existence by the military, and the armed forces
have pulled the strings the rest of the time, meaning that the threat of coups
are ever present .
aides said he would not resign. The president is deeply unpopular with
Pakistan's military establishment, which is widely believed to be behind
repeated attempts to oust him.
had a minor heart attack on Tuesday. He flew to Dubai where he had an
angioplasty. He's in good health now. He will come back tomorrow. There's no
question of any resignation," Mustafa Khokhar, the
government's adviser on human rights told the AFP news agency.
Farhatullah Babar, the president's spokesman, dismissed media speculation,
saying that "Zardari is in a Dubai hospital for medical tests and checkup
president is under pressure from the "memogate"
scandal in Pakistan, where he is accused of being behind a written
offer delivered to the US military leadership in the days after the raid on
Osasma bin Laden in May this year. The anonymous memo offered to rein in the
Pakistani military, in return for US support. Pakistan's former US ambassador
and close Zardari aide, Husain Haqqani, has
already been forced to resign over the issue and faces possible
Hasan, of Human Rights Watch, the international campaigning group, warned
against any military intervention. "Constitutional rule of law must be
followed and civilian supremacy must be maintained," he said.
"Governance must be through genuine periodic elections."