Zardari returns to Pakistan (Third Lead)

December 19th, 2011 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Dec 19 (IANS) Putting to rest rumours of a coup in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who abruptly left the country for Dubai over a heart ailment, returned home late Sunday night.

The 56-year-old Zardari arrived at the port city of Karachi having spent nearly two weeks in Dubai, Geo News reported. He resumed work Monday.

Zardari’s sudden departure had led to intense speculation with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani telling the senate that an ailing president feared for his life in Pakistan hospitals.

A special plane carrying Zardari landed past 1 a.m. at the Pakistan Air Force’s Masroor base in Karachi, from where he was taken to his Karachi residence, Bilawal House, according to Dawn News. The president was accompanied by his daughter Asifa.

Ejaz Durrani, spokesperson at Bilawal House, said Monday the president was completely fit and would resume political activities from Monday and meet party leaders.

Zardari would leave for Islamabad after spending some days in Karachi, Durrani was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

There had been a lot of confusion over Zardari’s health.

Initial reports said he had flown out of Pakistan Dec 6 over a heart ailment. While Pakistan Army doctors had declared him fit, a US-based magazine said he had suffered a minor heart attack.

Later, some media reports said Zardari had suffered a stroke that caused bleeding in the brain and facial paralysis.

Tight security arrangements were also made in Islamabad for the president’s landing.

Sources told Geo News that Zardari spoke on the phone with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani Saturday, and also consulted Gilani.

The army chief later “officially clarified” that there were no differences between the two major government institutions.

Firdous Ashiq Awan, minister for information and broadcasting, said Zardari’s return to Pakistan has ended all rumours and foiled attempts of those who were creating chaos and instability.

She criticised rumour-mongers who created political instability and damaged economic activity in the country, reported Associated Press of Pakistan.

Zardari is scheduled to address a gathering on the death anniversary of his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Larkana city of Sindh province Dec 27.

Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan, who was present at the Bilawal House, said the president had neither retreated from his position nor had he accepted any pressure.

Wassan said Zardari’s return was not part of any deal. He said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had sacrificed their lives but never compromised.

Meanwhile, sweets were distributed Monday in the Supreme Court premises in Islamabad after Zardari’s return, Geo News reported.

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