Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari was released from the hospital in Dubai on Wednesday, but has not returned to Pakistan. His reply to Pakistan’s Supreme Court investigation into the Memogate scandal had been expected today, but could be submitted tomorrow since the deadline has been extended.
Reuters gives us details on Zardari’s release from the hospital:
“President Zardari has been discharged from the hospital and he has moved to his residence in Dubai,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
The article also has more information on the ongoing question of whether Zardari suffered a stroke:
Zardari’s office had released a statement earlier on Wednesday from his doctor saying the president had been admitted to hospital with numbness and twitching in his left arm and had lost consciousness for a few seconds.
“All investigations are within normal range and he was kept for observation for a few more days,” Khaldoun Taha said, adding that Zardari would now rest at home and continue with his regular heart medications.
Zardari likely suffered a transient ischemic attack, senior sources in Zardari’s party said last week, an ailment that can produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage to the brain.
Admitting to a TIA appears to thread the needle nicely in providing a few symptoms consistent with the widespread rumors of a stroke while avoiding any long-term stroke damage which would be obvious should Zardari return to public life. With Zardari now out of the hospital, his need for “rest” begins to look more suspicious, especially with the rest taking place in Dubai. I’m having a hard time seeing how Zardari can take two weeks of rest outside the country at a time when such crucial questions are facing Pakistan’s government and then come back and resume his duties.
One immediate crisis facing Zardari is the investigation into Memogate being carried out by the Supreme Court. Continue reading
The pattern by now is all too familiar. Once again, the US is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Pakistan. Earlier instances included the “crisis” when the US killed three Pakistani soldiers and Pakistan responded by closing strategic border crossings. This was followed by the Raymond Davis fiasco. Then came exchanges of bluster over the US unilateral action that took out Osama bin Laden. Now, the target of US ire is the cozy relationship between the Haqqani network and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.
Reporting for Reuters, Mark Hosenball and Susan Cornwell tell us this morning that some in the US intelligence community are now assigning a direct role for ISI in the Haqqani network attack on the US embassy in Kabul:
Some U.S. intelligence reporting alleges that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) specifically directed, or urged, the Haqqani network to carry out an attack last week on the U.S. Embassy and a NATO headquarters in Kabul, according to two U.S. officials and a source familiar with recent U.S.-Pakistan official contacts.
The article informs us that the Senate Appropriations Committee has added to the pressure on Pakistan:
The Senate committee approved $1 billion in aid to support counter-insurgency operations by Pakistan’s military, but voted to make this and any economic aid conditional on Islamabad cooperating with Washington against militant groups including the Haqqanis.
A series of high-level meetings between US and Pakistani officials also has taken place over the last week to hammer home these allegations against Pakistan, despite this warning in the Reuters article:
However, U.S. officials cautioned that the information that Pakistan’s spy agency was encouraging the militants was uncorroborated.
A series of articles on the website for Pakistan’s Dawn news agency provides some perspective on the coverage of the issue in Pakistan. One article provides a forum for Interior Minister Rehman Malik after his meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller yesterday: Continue reading