Zardari back in Pakistan amid memo saga
Karachi, December 19, 2011
President Asif Ali Zardari, who was in Dubai for medical treatment, returned on Monday to Pakistan, where tension is rising between his civilian government and the military over a memo accusing the country's generals of plotting a coup.
It's not clear when the deeply unpopular leader who has uneasy ties with the army will return to work. He flew into the southern city of Karachi.
"The president is thankfully fit and healthy and that is why he has returned," Shazia Marri, information minister for Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, told Reuters. "However, his activities over the next few days will depend on what the doctors advise."
Zardari could be damaged by the memo, reportedly crafted by the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, which wants ally Pakistan stable so it can help wind the war down in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Businessman Mansoor Ijaz, in a column in the Financial Times on October 10, said a senior Pakistani diplomat had asked that a memo be delivered to the Pentagon with a plea for US help to stave off a coup in the days after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in a US raid, to the embarrassment and anger of the military.
Ijaz later identified the diplomat as Husain Haqqani, the then Pakistani ambassador to Washington who is close to Zardari. Haqqani denied involvement in the memo but resigned over what has been dubbed "memogate".
The Supreme Court on Monday started hearings into a petition demanding an inquiry into who was behind it. As president, Zardari is immune from prosecution but the controversy could seriously damage him politically. If a link is proven, the military, which has long been distrustful of Zardari, could push for his ouster.
Although Zardari has been a largely ceremonial president since constitutional amendments last year, he wields considerable influence as leader of the ruling party and his forced departure would be a humiliation for the civilian leadership and would throw the country into turmoil. - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Malaysia formally asks for international help
- MASSACRE: Gunmen kill 100 in central Nigeria
- Tense Crimea votes on Russia referendum
- Libyan port rebels say ready for talks
- India puts on hold search for missing plane
- Alibaba plans US listing in third-quarter
- Lost airliner was diverted deliberately: Malaysian PM
- Saudi demands Qatar shut down Al Jazeera
- Labour stalwart Benn dies aged 88
- Bahrain boat show postponed over development work
- Korean steel maker Posco set for revamp
- Harsh winter hits US consumer sentiment
- Sanctions set as Russia presses on with Crimea takeover
- India inflation at nine-month low
- Missing plane: It's deliberate act says Malaysia PM
- Lost plane 'flown deliberately toward Andamans'
- Gold hits fresh six-month highs
- Iran not open for business, affirms Kerry
- Barclays 'to cut thousands of jobs'
- Jet sent 'pings' after going missing
- China premier warns on economic slowdown
- Gunmen fire on army bus in Cairo, 1 killed
- Lost jet 'may have flown for four hours'
- Gold up as Ukraine, China prompt safe-haven bids
- Search finds no sign of lost plane at suspect spot
- Missing jet may have strayed to Andaman
- Gold hits near 6-month high
- 2 killed in Manhattan building blast
- Cameron pushes for travel bans on Russian MPs
- Indian coastguards join Malaysia jet search