Zardari leaves Pakistan, flies to Dubai
Islamabad: Amidst a standoff between the civilian government and the powerful military on the memo scandal, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday left for one-day visit to Dubai.
There is no immediate word on the visit from the presidency. This is Zardari’s second visit to Dubai in two months.
Sources close to Zardari said the President’s visit is completely non-political in nature. Some reports claimed that the President has gone to Dubai for medical check up, while others said Zardari was expected to attend a wedding, which would also be attended by several senior government officials.
The Pakistani leader has a private residence in Dubai.
He travelled to Dubai on December 06 and remained there for nearly a fortnight for treatment of a heart condition. That trip had triggered rampant speculation that Zardari was under pressure from the military to step down.
Since then, Zardari has made it clear that he has no intention of quitting as President.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan's military chief met top commanders amid a widening rift between the powerful armed forces and the civilian government.
Military spokesman Major Muhammad Ali Diyal declined to say what the talks at Army headquarters were about.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani fired the defence secretary and the military issued an unusual statement warning of "grievous consequences", as the fallout from a scandal centred on a memo written to Washington asking for its help in reining in the generals widened.
The Supreme Court, seen as hostile to President Asif Ali Zardari and an ally of the Army, is investigating that affair and a second one linked to past corruption cases against the President. Both could potentially be used as a pretext to oust the current civilian leadership.