Zardari says he will continue as Pak President

Asif Ali Zardari
Islamabad, Dec 17: Pakistan's ailing President Asif Ali Zardari has scotched speculation that he could be ousted under a constitutional provision that provides for the removal of a head of the state on the ground of "physical or mental incapacity".

Talking to a senior Pakistani journalist who had written a column on the same issue, Zardari said he was "absolutely fine" but doctors treating him in Dubai were not giving him permission to travel back to Pakistan.

Zardari questioned how the first clause of Article 47 of Pakistan's Constitution could be used to remove him if he was absolutely fine. If the constitutional provision was "forcefully imposed on him", he would reject it, Zardari was quoted as saying by the journalist. Clause (1) of Article 47 of the Constitution states: "Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the President may, in accordance with provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity."

The President's abrupt departure for Dubai on December 6 triggered speculation that he could be on the verge of resigning due to growing pressure on him from the powerful military establishment in the wake of the "Memogate" controversy.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the President chose to seek treatment in Dubai due to threats he was facing in Pakistan. Zardari has been at the centre of a storm since reports linked him to an alleged secret memo that was delivered by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to the US military after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

The memo sought US help to prevent a possible military takeover in Pakistan. The government has said both the President and Prime Minister had no role in drafting and delivering the memo. However, the government has not set a date for Zardari's return to Pakistan.


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