Rumours run riot: Zardari’s heart condition sets pulses racing

Published: December 7, 2011

President to remain in Dubai hospital; US magazine claims he is considering resigning.

ISLAMABAD: The times are such in Pakistan.

President Asif Zardari flew to Dubai on Tuesday triggering a seemingly endless stream of contradictory statements from his top aides, speculation from ‘insiders’ and ‘experts’, and wild conjecture that the county’s powerful security establishment was plotting to oust the embattled leader from office, leading to a frenetic day for those following the story.

What seemed to be lost in all the rumours was that the president had travelled for treatment for his heart condition.

A steady flow of contradictions

The first statement from the Presidency on Tuesday said Zardari had left for Dubai to visit his children and also to undergo some medical tests. According to the president’s personal physician, Colonel Salman, the proposed medical tests were of a routine nature.

It was reported by private television channels that Zardari was first taken to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi for an initial check-up and it was there that he was advised to proceed to Dubai.

The government initially denied that the president had visited a hospital before leaving the country by air-ambulance, but later admitted that he went to AFIC.

Zardari’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, however, denied reports that the president was first taken to any hospital for tests or treatment. Instead, Babar said the president held meetings with PPP leaders to review security arrangements for Ashura.

By Wednesday the story had been modified – enough to set the rumour mill in full motion.

Mustafa Khokhar, the human rights minister, made the blood pressure of political observers rise to alarming levels when he said Zardari had suffered a “minor heart attack” and was in Dubai for a small operation. Khokhar added that, despite media reports, there was “no question of any resignation” by Zardari.

Meanwhile, a statement from the prime minister’s office said Zardari went to a Dubai hospital at the insistence of his children, who live there. A Dubai-based member of the PPP, Mian Muneer Hans, said the president landed in Dubai around 7:30pm on Tuesday. “He walked to his car in the airport and was not in an ambulance.”

The Presidency still claimed it was business as usual. “Reports about the president’s health and activities are speculative, imaginary and untrue,” said the president’s spokesperson, denying a number of comments on television portraying different political scenarios.

PPP seeks to reassure country through Bilawal

Late on Wednesday, it emerged that the president’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – also the chairman of the PPP – had arrived in Islamabad and chaired a meeting of the party’s top leaders in the evening.

According to political observers, this particular move appeared to be an attempt at showing the nation that there would be no political vacuum even if Zardari had to step down.

An official statement of the meeting’s conclusions was released – curiously, there was no mention of the armed forces or issues related to defence, despite the current situation revolving around the country’s heightened security situation.

Intrigue, conjecture and denials

Military sources told The Express Tribune that Zardari had a meeting with a top military official while at the AFIC in Rawalpindi and hinted that he might have had an exchange of “harsh words”. Although unconfirmed, this visitor is believed to have been army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

On Wednesday a US magazine reported that Zardari might resign due to ill-health. In its report, The Cable quoted a former US government official saying that when US President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari recently regarding Nato’s killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was “incoherent.”

The report claimed that Zardari was “feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal”, and quoted the official as having said: “The noose was getting tighter — it was only a matter of time,” expressing the growing expectation inside the US government that Zardari may be stepping down.

Another rumour doing the rounds said that the president was given two choices by the military: either to quit his brand of politics or face a trial under Article 6 of the Constitution that deals with high treason.

Islamabad was already abuzz with rumours that top military authorities had asked Zardari to shun high profile activities. Some commentators went to the extent that Zardari had nominated Senate Chairman Farooq Naek as his successor – though he was deemed unacceptable by the military.

However, senior members of the PPP rubbished this.

The president did take some desperate steps to give the impression that all was well, phoning Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan about his plans to return.

Zardari has come under growing pressure over a memo allegedly written by close aide Husain Haqqani. The website of US magazine Foreign Policy reported that Zardari had been considering his resignation over the Memogate scandal.

There has been speculation that the ongoing row between the presidency and the military establishment had further intensified after the military came to know that the government had told the US it was ready to send representatives to the Bonn conference, but the military was standing in the way.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, visited Zardari in hospital and wished him a “speedy recovery”.

(Read: The memo that opened the gates!)

(With additional input from wires)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (94)

  • Ahmad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:23AM

    I think this would be a wise decision from Zardari…

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 10:24AM

    They always know our interior matters better than us..

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  • Rehan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:25AM

    Zardari is Pakistan’s most under-appreciated President. Ever. This is a sad, depressing, dark day if this news is true.
    Regards,
    Rehan

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  • Not me
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:26AM

    He should …………………………….

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  • Bill
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:29AM

    Memogate strong army and current situation is tking it’s toll. He is un popular amongst masses. Should have realized this long ago and quit.

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  • Nadeem
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:30AM

    This is the beginning of the end or may be the end of the beginning.

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  • EmbarassedPak
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:35AM

    fishy…..

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  • saleem ullah
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:38AM

    This type of speculation may be beneficial for US; but not having a positive effect in ongoing troubles , from the PAKISTAN is being recovered.

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  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:40AM

    Mr. Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur will become next President immediately and God forbid if he dies, she will also become the co-chairwoman of the PPP. It may hasten the take over process by Bilawal of the party as main leader, although he is too young and immature for the Pakistani politics. On another account it is unfortunate that Pakistani leaders both our President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and opposition leader Mr Nawaz Sharif opt to go to overseas hospitals for their check ups and surgeries. I am very disappointed in them that they do not trust their fellow Pakistani doctors and their own hospitals.

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  • Danish
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:41AM

    It’s not over till it’s over

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  • Salman Nisar
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:45AM

    As far as i know him, He Wont Resign And He will Also Come Back to PakistanRecommend

  • Dec 7, 2011 - 10:53AM

    It,s the first time when an elected president is going to complete it,s tenure and thoroughly speaking he done his job quiet effectively uptill now but the reason behind poor health may be provoked but it,s not a such matter to give resign now it,s the public demand to continue his tenure when ever any govt doing good will face such incidence and no dout he is a man of customs trade and more reliable person in Pakistan history after getting wel he will continue his position and being the co-chairperson of PPPP also have the responsibility to drive the nation towards finest era

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  • R S JOHAR
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:03AM

    Will the problems which Pakistan faces vanish in the thin air after President Zardari’s exit ?

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  • rizwan raja
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:04AM

    get well soon president,praying for your helth

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  • Muhammad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:04AM

    i think that things are becoming narrowing for him….nd every person like himm wil have bad future….pakistan is land of only pure people…..

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 11:05AM

    It’s a shame the news coming to us from US.

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  • Khurram Mansoor
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:07AM

    Well I will be sadeneed and ask myself uptill when and why cannot we have men of stronger notions in stronger positions.

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  • Ali Q
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:09AM

    Wishing Zardari a speedy recovery (for his family’s sake and not, necessarily, for Pakistan’s sake).

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  • Discostu
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:11AM

    I do hope it’s true. No offense to his family, but it would be best if they don’t come back either. End to all dynasties.

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  • Kamal
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:12AM

    I sincerely and dearly hope that this does not turn out to be a rumour.

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 11:12AM

    Is the US the Supreme Court Of Pakistan or is it the Head of Pakistan to Decide who goes or who come? Why dont US mind its business?

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  • Saad Duraiz
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:13AM

    Who wants to bet he’s not coming back?

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  • irshad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:25AM

    Get Well Soon…Mr.Zardari

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  • Arshad Jatoi
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:29AM

    Best news for Pakistan since Musharraf quit.

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  • Shabbir Dagha
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:30AM

    Good:)

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  • Mirza
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:30AM

    From Moudodi to Imran Khan and all the generals can go and live overseas and have their family members live there is fine but not the PPP elected leader and country’s president. If Zardari would marry a jew what kind of storm would develop against him in Pakistan? This is all hate mongering against the elected leaders of PPP and Pakistan.

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  • Annoyed
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:38AM

    What a dramatic pre planned entry and now a well sketched Exit!!
    Wah Sir Jee Wah!Recommend

  • Jay-C
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:50AM

    Another “tragedy” for PPP to drive people’s emotion and gain votes. (‘Im so not saying its deliberate)

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  • Naveed Khan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:55AM

    Wishing “Pakistan” good luck.

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  • Usman Ayub
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:55AM

    its defiantly fishy

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  • Rehan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 11:55AM
  • Shia Pakistani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:03PM

    Get well soon Mr. President.

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  • Pakistani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:05PM

    I think that he will not take resign. He will face the results. Because, he has a very strong will power.

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  • munim khan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:08PM

    Zardari will never run.The one who are spreading these rumors should look at the mans past.
    He has endured years in jail but never compromised on his principals.what Memo gate…Its all he said she said.A conspiracy to malign the president by the enemies of democracy.

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  • Irfan Soomro
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:09PM

    Imran Khan does not have a palace in Surrey and a chateau in France, last time I checked@Mirza:

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  • on to pmln
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:18PM

    @Discostu:
    I agree a hundred times.

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  • Aly Z
    Dec 7, 2011 - 1:02PM

    Presidency has denied rumours. First rule of government: “Never believe anything unless it is officially denied.” Fingers crossed, hoping for the best:)

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  • muhammad ishaq
    Dec 7, 2011 - 1:09PM

    Wish u good health MR. President. And wish u will survive this time also and your detractors will get back in their face.

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  • naz
    Dec 7, 2011 - 1:11PM

    Why not Civil Hospital?Recommend

  • Saad Saeed
    Dec 7, 2011 - 1:47PM

    If we go by his past record, it seems a bit farfetched that he will resign or run away. Because if he runs away at this moment, PPP will be effectively erased from Pakistan’s political landscape.

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  • Saleem
    Dec 7, 2011 - 2:01PM

    US …please mind your own business…..let us alone…we know what to do when….you don’t have to get into Pakistan internal matters.

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  • fareeha
    Dec 7, 2011 - 2:07PM

    Anyone noticed that the PIMS hospital was good enough for the president’s late father? But not for him. Recommend

  • Hasan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 2:37PM

    If we want democracy in Pakistan we as individuals should play by the rules too. Even though the economic management and day-to-day administration was better under President Musharaf, the people of Pakistan voted in favor of Mr. Zardari. Now let us be civilized and wait for the next elections.

    On a separate note, I never liked former prime minister Benazir Bhutto but I must say that President Zardari has been a stabilizing factor all along. I rate his political acumen way above his assassinated wife or her nemesis Mr. Sharif.

    Pakistan Paindabad.

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  • Pashtun
    Dec 7, 2011 - 2:41PM

    I thought Pakistan is capable enough to carry out an Angioplasty in any of its major cities – the President had to go to Dubai for the same is surprising….

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  • Lobster
    Dec 7, 2011 - 2:52PM

    Being a severe critic of Zardari, its difficult to say, but I think the “establishment” must let him complete his term. He was elected constitutionally, his mandate must be respected. Resignation and that too on a rumor from an enemy of Pakistan would be disastrous. Any tom dick and harry can pop up and claim some stupid message to be from president. Ironically, those pressurizing him won’t resign no matter what happens under their nose

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  • A
    Dec 7, 2011 - 3:30PM

    @Mirza: “If Zardari would marry a jew what kind of storm would develop against him in Pakistan? “

    then he may not be the President of Pakistan.

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  • Adeel Chandio
    Dec 7, 2011 - 3:51PM

    Well said. @fareeha:

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  • MarkH
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:13PM

    @Saleem:
    Because the US twisted your media’s arm until they reported what the US reported, right? Yep. Such bullies.

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  • Zain
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:16PM

    Zardari and resign??? haha.. Never

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  • Menon
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:25PM

    Would be great loss to Pakistan for such an efficient administrator and international leader to have to resign.

    Don’t worry, Bilwal is ready to take over as the next king.

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  • Mushtaq
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:34PM

    PPP has been claiming to represent the poor peoples of Pakistan, their leaders must have the courage to go to Civil Hospitals of Pakistan for their treatments if they have any medical problems.

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  • abid
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:38PM

    I think he will return. I also want him to complete his Govt Tenure so that they all dont have any justification for not doing any thing for “Pakstan’.Recommend

  • Dr.A.K. Tewari
    Dec 7, 2011 - 4:39PM

    It is only the enemy of Pakistan who want exit of an elected president . He is not going to leave the war against terrorism in amid . His term may be extended if there will be unstability in Pakistan due to American action abainst the terrorists .

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  • Pakhero
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:03PM

    I hope this isn’t true …Recommend

  • Mohammad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:04PM

    Asif Ali Zardari is the president of Pakistan, symbol of National Unity and patronage of whole Pakistan… those who are not respecting him, please respect this position he holds.

    And mind it, we must pray for the well being and good health of all, regardless of our differences.

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  • Usman
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:19PM

    agreed @Danish:

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  • Adeel
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:25PM

    I agree with you. @Hasan:

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  • Mani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:33PM

    @Mirza:
    For your information, Jemima was Christian not Jewish, and she converted to Islam. Get your facts straight. And besides, so what even if she was? This kind of bigotry and racism needs to end.Recommend

  • alicia
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:38PM

    I don’t personally hold good opinion about him but still for his childrens sake I wish him a good recovery.
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  • Nabeel Memon
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:53PM

    Get well soon, Mr. Zardari.Recommend

  • Z
    Dec 7, 2011 - 5:54PM

    @Lobster: I understand your sentiment regarding Zardari complete his term. But I don’t think his staying as President is constitutional. The constitution does not allow the President to hold any office in a political party, and we know he’s co-chair of the PPP. There is also a verdict from the Lahore High Court regarding this.Recommend

  • Mee
    Dec 7, 2011 - 6:10PM

    @Rehan, @Farrukh abbas, @munim khan
    Looks like you guys have been well fed by current govt

    @R S JOHAR
    It will be a startRecommend

  • Usman Ali Khan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 6:18PM

    For starters, I am neither a supporter of PPP nor of Zardari. Having said that, I sincerely hope that he gets better and returns to take resume his position in Pakistan. Regardless of what one says, he has been one of the more effective presidents who has shown the utmost of political wisdom and patience in the years he has remained president. While I do believe that it would be best for him to leave Pakistan (and its Presidency) alone eventually, now is not the time. Not when Pakistan is in a position where for the first time it has taken a stance against the US (re killing of our soldiers) and especially not when there is even the slightest of chance that the Sharifs might wriggle their way back out of their holes. The time to go for Zardari will be when US back down off of Pakistan and when Sharifs are in a position where they could never return to power. Give it time.

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  • Mohammad Ahmed Khan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 6:35PM

    So actual power players are playing their game behind – best luck to Mr. Zardari and Pakistan

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  • Amjad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 6:50PM

    @Not me: As long as that dictator Musharraf doesn’t come back anyone is better.

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 6:54PM

    May Allah recover his health, he is our honourable president and this is not a time for speculations.

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  • Sabrina Khan
    Dec 7, 2011 - 7:11PM

    God! how can we live without him? what will happen to Kamran Khan and GEO? and Shahid Masood and Shaheen Sehbai? I think they all should make a Union to Save Zardari…

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  • Saman
    Dec 7, 2011 - 7:41PM

    Wishing you a speedy recovary. Recommend

  • Butt
    Dec 7, 2011 - 8:01PM

    @Amjad
    Musharraf is coming back and people will vote for him to let him lead the country once again Inshallah. During the next election bettle will be between the corruption lovers and the corrption hatters Inshallah.

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  • israr Abbasi
    Dec 7, 2011 - 8:07PM

    it is unfortunate that pakistani intellectuals and people usually become prey of english propaganda .we are victem of conspiracies like ,,to create uncertinity in contry ,,our foreign sponsered and foreign funded media is fuling the UNCETINITY in country we are sorry for ourselves

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  • Mirza
    Dec 7, 2011 - 8:13PM

    @Mani: All I am saying is if Zardari would have been a Western guy and had several out of wedlock kids and marries a non Muslim, the whole rightwing gang would be after his life. Just like they were after ZAB and Taseer’s life. Who was Goldsmith if not a son of a Jew? To me personally Jews are a lot better than the double standard people. I am talking about the duplicity of PPP’s opponents and rightwing mullah/military alliance. If other leaders have residences overseas it is fine. But not PPP leaders who have been unsafe in Pakistan especially their young kids. From Moudoudi’s son, to Mush’s son and brother they all live in the US but not the PPP leadership! I think non religious people are much better than these liars.
    Regards,
    MirzaRecommend

  • mamir
    Dec 7, 2011 - 8:32PM

    Why should president zardari resign? He is an elected president and has every right to complete his tenure. If he is resigning because of pressure from army or judiciary, that is very sad. Pakistan can not afford to be run on the basis of rule of necessity or on trial and error basis any longer.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:04PM

    He will become prime minister and Gillani will be elected as Presiden. The only hurdle is Nawaz Sharif. Imran Khan is doing great job in removing that hurdle.

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  • Nasir
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:04PM

    It’s time the silliness played by the politicians and armed forces must end. Perhaps an in house change is coming… or perhaps the government is exiting prematurely.

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  • Chief "Saab"
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:09PM

    @Mirza: All of Zardari’s children reside outside of Pakistan, so does Sanam Bhutto, and so did Nusrat Bhutto and Hakim Ali Zardari. Also, Mush’s son and brother are apolitical so it does not matter where they live.

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  • Mohammad Naeem
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:11PM

    GET WELL SOON Mr. President. You are ray of the hope and God willing you will prove yourself that you are the force against those who want status co and dont want the rise of oppressed ppl of Pakistan whether they are in Balochistan, Sindh, Seraiki belt or else where in Pakistan.

    You have proved your metal that you can face establishment. you can face powerful america. and you can continue the mission of Benazir Shaheed to fight for the poor ppl of Pakistan. And this rumour seems to be more a wish of america that they want to see u out of power because you have shown them that Pakistan can stand them and there is this one man who can resist them.
    Down with america long live president zardari, Long live Pakistan.

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  • rehmat
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @fareeha: “Anyone noticed that the PIMS hospital was good enough for the president’s late father? But not for him.”

    Maybe his father could not afford going abroad for treatment and he can.

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  • Mani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:24PM

    @Mirza:
    Are you kidding me? A palace in Surrey and a chateau in France not to mention countless properties in Dubai. Yes all political leaders have properties and backup contingencies abroad, the PPP are not the exception.
    Imran Khan has brought all of his wealth back into Pakistan, and he is the only politician to do so. I will be very honest with you. If I was married to a hot billionaire heiress and got to rub noses with celebrities and the British royal family, I dont know if I would have given all that up to come live in Pakistan and struggle everyday.

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 9:34PM

    Good news.

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  • MK
    Dec 7, 2011 - 9:55PM

    @Mirza:
    You are making assumptions, what some people have mentioned here is the fact that he chose to go abroad for what his own people call as “Routine Checkup” he does not trust the facilities his own government runs here. I understand that we are a third world country and if he is ill with some condition that has absolutely no cure or method of check up here then makes sense for him to go abroad. When it comes to living overseas his own family still lives there and of many other politicians from all parties have their families living overseas.
    Although Goldsmith (Goldschmidt in German) is generally a Jewish last name of German Jewish origin, however for the record James Goldsmith was not a Jew (not that there is anything wrong in being one). His father was of Jewish origin but was not practicing and his mother was a Catholic and himself James Goldsmith was baptized a Catholic. Are you suggesting that all Muslim Pakistanis with same last names as Hindus and Sikhs in India and Pakistan are not Muslims or one with last name Hashami is still a follower of pre Islamic pagan religion because tribe of Banu Hashim was once a pagan tribe?

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  • Pakistani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 10:07PM

    Resign or not, he probably has a sister, brother, grandma or someone ready to take over.

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  • bangash
    Dec 8, 2011 - 3:14AM

    Zardari is still one step ahead of GHQ conspirators….Faryal Talpur will become President and Zardari will be free to plot behind the scenes, just like Nawaz Sharif.

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  • Mera Ek Kawab Hai
    Dec 8, 2011 - 4:42AM

    I don’t care too much for Zardari, however i wish the very best for my beloved Pakistan. May it awaken from this long nightmare and rise to become the great nation it was destined to be..

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  • amjad cheema
    Dec 8, 2011 - 6:21AM

    May God keep him safe.
    God willing PPP will deafeat all these hotemongers & fascists.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Dec 8, 2011 - 6:50AM

    @Pashtun: The local hospitals are only for the amm adami our leaders like to get treated abroad Sonia went to New York Zardari goes to Dubai

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  • Arindom
    Dec 8, 2011 - 8:02AM

    No body in Pakistan seems to know what’s going on?! So people should ask the Arabs – they hold the remote…..

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  • Minhas, baz Khan
    Dec 8, 2011 - 1:10PM

    I personally wish Mr. Zardari good health. I copy two famous quotes just appropriate for the situation. 1. “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends” Oscar Wilde
    2. ” I have just learned about his illness. Let us hope it’s not trivial.” Irvin S. Cobb

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  • aNu
    Dec 8, 2011 - 3:41PM

    Please shifted him to Civil Hospital Karachi :P

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  • Dec 8, 2011 - 10:38PM
  • mussarat
    Dec 10, 2011 - 5:49AM

    Nothing new. People come and go that doesn’t matter. May God Pakistan remain intact. Ameen, summa ameen.

    Mussarat

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  • omar
    Dec 10, 2011 - 11:20PM

    @R S JOHAR:
    Yes, it will actually.!! BecuasE Imran Khan will become pm, inshallah

    And, Indians should concentrate on their own politics!!

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  • mussarat
    Dec 11, 2011 - 12:19AM

    @omar:

    Do you think so Mr. Omar?

    Mussarat
    Washington DC

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  • NGH
    Dec 11, 2011 - 1:29AM

    He’s too smart a politician!

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  • Khalid Rao
    Dec 11, 2011 - 1:56PM

    Zardari I pray for his health.

    But I disagree with his moves inside Pakistan. He is not bold, but his tricks and dealing with the politician, it is not shrewdness of his wisdom but crafty planning & thinking.
    His incapable PM and his management are worth Zero . About 10 biggest institutions of the country are in trouble because of the PM & President .
    There are many adventures inside Pakistan.I think Pakistan need controlled democracy in the beginning and then they should go for full democracy when the institution get stronger,otherwise it is wastage of money and time of our nation.

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