ISLAMABAD: Although the presidency and the Prime Minister's House claim that the condition of President Asif Ali Zradari, currently under treatment in Dubai, is improving with every passing day, he will not be able to return to the country by Dec 19 — when the first hearing of the memo case is scheduled in the Supreme Court.
However, the presidency will submit the president's reply before that day as ordered by the apex court even if he remains hospitalised for cardiac treatment.
“The president will submit his reply before the court even if he does not return from Dubai,” spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
However, he added, a “final decision” regarding the return of the president would be taken in accordance with the doctors' advice.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in an interview with BBC, had also confirmed that President Zardari would not be in the country when the hearing would be held.
He would need two weeks' rest before returning home, Mr Gilani added. He also squashed rumours that the president had suffered a stroke and that the army was trying to oust him.
All clarifications and denials were not enough to silence rumour mills as no quarter was forthcoming with a word on the nature of President Zardari's illness.
Sources in the presidency said the government's legal team was preparing the reply of President Zardari in the case filed by PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif on memo issue.
It has been learnt that the reply will not be a lengthy one and he will try to prove his innocence, contending that he has nothing to do with the memo allegedly presented to the US military chief through an American businessman of Pakistan origin to save the civilian government in Pakistan from a feared military coup.
The PML-N filed the petition on Nov 30, seeking a probe into the scandal.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Asfhaq Parvez Kayani, ISI Director General Gen Shuja Pasha, former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani, the main character in the scandal, Mansoor Ijaz, the foreign secretary and the federation have been made parties to the case in the petition.
The Supreme Court's nine-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, after initial hearing of the petition, had asked all the parties, including President Zardari and the COAS, to submit replies in 15 days.
The sources revealed that the government was not in a hurry to file the president's reply until one or two days before the 15-day deadline.
“We are in no hurry to file the president's reply in the Supreme Court because currently we are engaged in the Zhulfikar Ali Bhutto reference which will be heard by the apex court on Monday,” former law minister Babar Awan said.