Zardari Released From Hospital, Remains in Dubai; Memogate Reply Delayed

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. A very short article in Dawn on the filing of responses in the investigation tells us that Zardari’s response is delayed:

Attorney General, Maulvi Anwarul Haq on Thursday said that the Army chief and DG ISI are to submit their statements by today. However, President Zardari will not file his reply today, DawnNews reported.

According to the AG, the 15-day deadline given to party members to respond to the memogate case will end tomorrow.

Earlier this morning, three legal experts from the Army Head Quarters delivered the Army chief’s reply and are still in attendance at the Attorney General’s office with the proposed documents.

The Express Tribune fills in more details on the filings and the uncertainty regarding the deadline:

Speaking to TheExpress Tribune, AG Haq said that the replies from Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Shuja Ahmed Pasha will be submitted today.

Haq, who is responsible for submitting the replies on behalf of Zardari, Pasha and Kayani, said that he would “try his best” to submit the replies today.

Contrary to the statement released by the SC that the deadline ends today, the AG said that he had one more day to submit the replies and that he was in the process of filing replies on behalf of Kayani and Pasha.


During the last hearing, the court had sought written replies from President Asif Ali Zardari, Kayani, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Shuja Pasha, former Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, and the foreign secretary.

It is quite interesting that one person has responsibility for filing the replies from parties who would appear to be on opposite sides of the controversy. It is also interesting that meetings are continuing between Army representatives and the AG, apparently to develop the final language that will go into Kayani’s response. Finally, it is not entirely clear that Haq intends to file a response from Zardari when the two news reports are read together.

Meanwhile, in addition to his emailed filing of over 80 pages in the Memogate investigation, Mansoor Ijaz continues to stir the pot, granting an interview with a blogger in which he claims that ISI chief Pasha visited a number of Arab governments in May to discuss a possible coup:

A blog posting on Independent’s website quoted Mansoor Ijaz as having said: “that their (US intelligence) information was that Pasha had travelled to a few of the Arab countries to talk about what would be necessary to do in the event they had to remove Zardari from power and so forth.”


The claim about Gen Pasha talking to Arab leaders about the coup is per se not new. There is a reference to this effect in the so-called transcript of Blackberry messenger conversations between Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz.

The latter had supposedly sent a message to Mr Haqqani: “I was just informed by senior US intel that GD-SII (read DG-ISI) Mr P asked for, and received permission, from senior Arab leaders a few days ago to sack Z.”

However, this message did not attract attention until Mr Ijaz explained its context in an interview with the Independent blogger. He claimed that this information was shared with him by a senior US intelligence official when he sought to confirm through CIA if Mr Zardari was really facing threat from the military.

It would seem that Mr. Ijaz is not yet satisfied that he has spent enough time dominating the headlines. With Zardari still “resting” in Dubai, the deadline for responses in the Supreme Court investigation shifting and the Army apparently in negotiations with the Attorney General over the wording of Kayani’s response, further meddling by Ijaz can only be seen as an attempt to bring the crisis to the next level.

14 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    OT – From the Christian Science Monitor about 10 minutes ago, an interesting read:

    “Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer

    In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran.

    Iran guided the CIA’s “lost” stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone’s systems inside Iran…”

  2. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: Heh! Something must have been lost in translation from that spokesman since when would a doctor give advice to go to another country? That Zardari is medically able to travel, yes.

  3. JohnLopresti says:

    Tia’s can take a lot of ongoing monitoring and ‘workup’. The symptom complex described is not innocuous. Coagulopathies would be included in the observation and testing regime. I am not sure about Jim White’s exact work, if at UF Shands or someplace proximate; so, I will tread lightly here. However, the left arm has significance, as well. I suppose someone might greet me some day asking about great vessel scans and the like, and would the patient prefer off-pump procedure, or require one; it’s a mystery to me. I think the gent needs to be circumspect, political flaps notwithstanding.

  4. Jim White says:

    @JohnLopresti: I’m definitely not an MD and don’t work for UF, as I’m just a former biologist now posing as a gentleman horse farmer.

    Yeah, I also would have thought that a TIA would call for anticoagulants later, but all the reports I’ve seen so far ascribe his current drug treatments as aimed at his blood pressure and diabetes. And indeed, the left arm being involved does also sound heart-related. Bottom line is I think we still don’t have a full picture of either the medical or political situation.

  5. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: More detail on the RQ-170 drone’s mission over Iran via CNN:

    “Crashed drone was looking at Iran nuclear sites

    The Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran last week was on a surveillance mission of suspected nuclear sites in the country, U.S. military officials tell CNN.

    Previously, U.S. and NATO officials had said the drone was on a mission to patrol the Afghan-Iran border and had veered off course.

    The officials say the Afghan government was unaware of the use of its territory to fly surveillance drones over Iran, and that the CIA had not informed the Defense Department of the drone’s mission when reports first emerged that it had crashed. One official told CNN that the U.S. military “did not have a good understanding of what was going on because it was a CIA mission…”

  6. ryan says:

    What is the Pakistani Supreme Court investigating? At whose behest? Did Haqqani or the government pursue charges against Ijaz? That seems unlikely to me, but I could at least understand what Ijaz has done as the possible locus of a crime, if one assumes there was no Haqqani involvement at all – since he would be misrepresenting himself as an agent of the government.

    It’s hard to see how Haqqani could be the subject on an investigation, let alone Zardari. Whatever the Pakistani generals may rightly believe about their power position, no constitution would enshrine in law the idea that intel chiefs can’t be touched by the head of government, at least I wouldn’t think so.

    I have to say I’m most horrified at Mullen’s response. He had a chance to say that he ignored the memo because he has ample channels for communicating with Pakistani government and its elected head, Zardari. Instead, he chose to emphasize his direct relationship with Kayani.

  7. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: OT again – And more drone dribs and drabs leaking out from Public Intelligence via the NYT:

    Report on Operating Next-Generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft for Irregular Warfare (Large PDF! 110 pages)

    Of note to the RQ-170 drone drama, my bolded part of this paragraph:

    “…This year, for the first time in history, the President’s budget proposed a larger investment in RPAs than manned aircraft. A seemingly insatiable operational appetite for RPAs, however, has led to an Air Force manning bottleneck. This is exacerbated by a lack of common ground stations, unsatisfactory integration with civilian and international airspace, and vulnerabilities in communications and command and control links…”

  8. MadDog says:

    @ryan: My take on your questions:

    “What is the Pakistani Supreme Court investigating?”

    Both Haqqani and Zardari, and whether there was a potentially (as seen by Pakistan) treasonous conspiracy by both of them to work with a foreign nation (the US) to neuter Pakistan’s military and intelligence leaders and organizations.

    “At whose behest?”

    Good question! While the Zardari government has announced an investigation, I don’t believe that it involves the Pakistani Supreme Court. However, that said, from what I understand, the Pakistani Supreme Court functions in a somewhat different manner than our own courts and seems to be able to undertake “investigations” on its own.

    “Did Haqqani or the government pursue charges against Ijaz?”

    Not that I’m aware of…yet. Ijaz evidently holds dual American/Pakistan citizenship. He apparently resides primarily in London, and therefore, seems out of reach to Pakistani law enforcement, but that wouldn’t necessarily preclude a civil action.

    “I have to say I’m most horrified at Mullen’s response. He had a chance to say that he ignored the memo because he has ample channels for communicating with Pakistani government and its elected head, Zardari. Instead, he chose to emphasize his direct relationship with Kayani.”

    One of the takeaways that I got from reading the NYT’s Bill Kellor’s piece last night, was this from Page 6 of the 9 page piece:

    “…In late October, Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad, leading a delegation that included Petraeus, recently confirmed as C.I.A. director, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Mullen’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs…


    …The trip was intended as a show of unity and resolve by an administration that has spoken with conflicting voices when it has focused on Pakistan at all. For more than four hours, the Americans and a potent lineup of Pakistani counterparts talked over a dinner table.

    Perhaps the most revealing thing about the dinner was the guest list. The nine participants included Kayani and Pasha, but not President Zardari or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who provided the dining room at his own residence and made himself scarce. The only representative of the civilian government was Clinton’s counterpart, the new foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, a 34-year-old rising star with the dark-haired beauty of a Bollywood leading lady, a degree in hospitality management from the University of Massachusetts and, most important, close ties to the Pakistani military…”

    As the quoted NYT piece shows, when the US wants to talk to Pakistan, it bypasses the nominal civilian leadership, and talks to the folks who really have the power, the men with the guns.

  9. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And more specifics from the report as culled by the NYT:

    “The report, a full version of which is included at the bottom of this post, lists several ways in which drones can come under attacks targeting their communications:

    There is a wide range of methods that a determined adversary can use for attacking RPA guidance and navigation systems. The report mentions here only three categories of threats without going into the details:

    – Small, simple GPS noise jammers can be easily constructed and employed by an unsophisticated adversary and would be effective over a limited RPA operating area.

    – GPS repeaters are also available for corrupting navigation capabilities of RPAs.

    – Cyber threats represent a major challenge for future RPA operations. Cyber attacks can affect both on-board and ground systems, and exploits may range from asymmetric CNO attacks to highly sophisticated electronic systems and software attacks.

    The report also found that the “spoofing or hijacking” of communication links could also lead to “platform loss” — i.e., a missing drone.

    An Iranian engineer said to be involved in working on the captured RQ-170 told The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday that it had been just those sorts of weaknesses in the communication network that allowed Iran to get the drone…”

  10. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: More OT drone drama dribs and drabs via the WaPo’s Greg Miller:

    “Officials reject new claim on crashed drone

    U.S. officials have not yet determined what caused a CIA-operated stealth drone to crash in Iran, but reject the Islamic nation’s claims of responsibility for bringing the aircraft down.

    In the latest claim, an unidentified Iranian engineer told the Christian Science Monitor that Iran exploited a vulnerability in the drone’s navigation system to bring it to a safe landing…


    An American official briefed on the probe said the United States obtained imagery of the downed aircraft showing that its frame was still in one piece. Asked whether that means the aircraft was intact, the official said, “It depends on how you define that.” Even if the frame was still together, the official said, many of its components are likely to have been destroyed “when something hits the ground that hard…”

  11. JohnLopresti says:

    @Jim White: Thanx, Jim. It’s somebody else’s health, but left atrial…involvement might be too partial of a view to fit the disparate array of symptoms reported. The mosaic looked incomplete; but that is the sort of reporting the standard media often do, finding the keywords but having difficulty linking them sensibly because of the complicatedness of the underlying technology. Just like with the reopened case of the mysterious amrid stuff you have helped clarify extensively. Senator Leahy may yet have more answers of the sort he was expecting in that matter, too. fyi, I spent parts of 3 years in the wonderful Shands family of institutions in a nonMD capacity, remotely; and only wished I could have gleaned more there. A wonderful research and teaching complex.

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