Washington: Did former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari go to Washington to ask for help to ensure that the Nawaz Sharif government stays in power?
Speculative media reports and conspiracy theorists are suggesting as much on the basis of statements issued from within the rank and file of the PPP, PML-N and the PTI.
It is confirmed that Zardari met US Vice President Joe Biden at the residence of Pakistan`s former ambassador-at-large Ray Mahmud for an iftar-dinner and reportedly discussed all major issues concerning Pakistan and the United States.
Both leaders also had a separate, hour-long meeting, which was attended by several members of the US Congress and PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as well.
Speculation is, however, rife that both leaders discussed military operation in North Waziristan, US-Pakistan ties and the situation in Afghanistan, besides "other issues of mutual interests".
The Dawn referred to a statement by PPP leader Shehla Raza, who is also the deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly, where she claimed that Zardari had gone to Washington to remind the Americans that when they arranged the NRO deal back in the Musharraf era, they had assured both the PPP and PML-N that civilians will be given 15 years to run the country, and that there would be no military takeover before at least three elections were held.
The PPP, however, distanced itself from the statement, saying that it did not reflect the party`s official stance on this issue.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi added fuel to the fire by claiming that he too believed Zardari had gone to Washington to remind Americans of the NRO deal.
The meeting was declared out of bounds for the media, both by the host and the White House, and this unusual secrecy generated wild speculations.
The Dawn says that some members in the Pakistani media had claimed that the so-called "power circles in Pakistan are already talking about forming a government of national unity".
PPP and PML-N leaders in Washington encouraged these conspiracy theorists by saying that Zardari had indeed had come to tell the Americans they should help the present government complete its tenure.
The absence of an authentic media briefing by either the US or Pakistan, gave conspiracy theorists a free hand, claims the paper.