Ever since Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari left for medical tests in Dubai related to heart problems, the rumors have come fast and furious about the real reason for his departure.
As The Post’s Karin Brulliard and Shaiq Hussain report, the Pakistani government has said Zardari is in stable condition and that the rumors the embattled leader is about to resign are false.
But the government has also flip-flopped on Zardari’s health, having initially said he was in Dubai only for a routine checkup. Now, a cabinet minister who spoke on the condition of anonymity admitted Zardari had suffered a minor heart attack but is “fine.”
Below, we examine four explanations being thrown around for why he really went to Dubai:
1. His ill health is a pretext for his resignation.
Foreign Policy suggests that Zardari could step down and be replaced by another member of his party, which would keep the country in civilian hands while appeasing the military. The magazine quotes a U.S. official as saying Zardari was “incoherent” during a phone call with President Obama this weekend, which suggests Zardari could be cracking under the pressure of conflict with the U.S. and would welcome resignation.
2. A military coup is at hand.
As the Guardian points out, “Pakistan has been ruled for half its existence by the military ... meaning that the threat of coups are ever present.” The president has also been under fire since May when U.S. troops killed Osama bin Laden in Abottabad, after which U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen received a memo asking for American help in preventing a coup.
3. Zardari is really ill.
The president is believed to have undergone an angioplasty in Dubai in 2005, and the prime minister’s office has referred to his heart condition as “pre-existing.” BBC reports that Zardari had chest pains that led up to his minor heart attack, and that unnamed close associates of the president said he is “unwell.”
4. It was just minor medical tests.
A Dubai-based member of Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, Mian Muneer Hans, told Reuters the president was well enough when he landed in Dubai that he “he walked to his car in the airport and was not on any ambulance.” Now, a cabinet minister who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Post said Zardari is “fine.”
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