The embattled President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has reportedly suffered a heart attack, prompting speculation he may resign.
The ex-husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari remains hospitalized in Dubai, where he flew to on Tuesday.
Government officials deny that Zardari is considering stepping down.
Mustafa Khokhar, a presidential adviser, told the Agence France Presse news agency: [Zardari] 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.
Similarly, a spokesman for the president, Farhatullah Babar, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain: The facts are that the president has gone to hospital in Dubai for routine medical checks. They are for a pre-existing cardiovascular condition.
Babar told other western media: Reports in some sections of the [Pakistani] media speculating on the president's activities and engagements are speculative, imaginary and untrue.
According to the English language Dawn newspaper, Fauzia Wahab, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), said: “Some elements blew up this to create unrest in the country. His visit to Dubai and having a medical check-up is perfectly normal.”
However, there are questions and some confusion over the true extent of Zardari’s health problems.
The Associated Press quoted an unnamed close friend of the president saying Zardari is “unwell.” Another source in Pakistan informed Reuters that: Two days ago he had a chest pain.
It is known that Zardari, 56, suffers from high blood pressure and endured a heart attack about six years ago.
It has been a very trying year for Zardari. Since the May assassination of Osama bin Laden in a compound near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, relations between Pakistan and the United States have deteriorate to an all-time nadir.
Zardari also has to deal with Pakistan’s powerful military who were reportedly enraged that the mission by U.S. commandoes to kill bin Laden on Pakistani soil was carried out without their knowledge or permission.
Since that time, some top U.S. government officials, including former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, has explicitly accused the Pakistan military or conspiring with and even supporting the militant groups that they are supposed to be fighting against.
However, it was the recent resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, over a controversial memo that cast the harshest light on Zardari and his whole civilian government and might seal the president’s fate.
The memo, which apparently asked for the help of the U.S. in reducing the power and influence of Pakistan’s military and intelligence network, is believed to have originated with Zardari himself, over fears that the Pakistani military might contemplate a coup to remove him from power (a frequent occurrence in the nation’s history).
Zardari has been President since 2008 when the PPP easily won the election, largely on the sympathy vote over his murdered wife.