President Asif Ali Zardari.—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: After receiving heart treatment in a hospital for nine days, President Asif Ali Zardari was shifted on Wednesday to his home in Dubai to take rest, but mystery still shrouds his return to the country and what had actually forced him to leave in haste.

Neither did his doctors give a statement about what really happened to Mr Zardari nor did the presidency’s spokesman come up with a specific date of his return to the country. Mr Babar, however, confirmed that “the president has been shifted to his home in Dubai”.

A bulletin issued by President Zardari’s doctor Khaldoun Taha on Wednesday said: “Mr Asif Ali Zardari has been admitted to the American Hospital Dubai on Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011, with a chief complaint of left arm numbness and twitching with a transient episode of loss of consciousness that lasted for a few seconds, which was witnessed (sic).

“Upon arrival to the hospital’s emergency room, he was fully awake and conscious with stable vital signs. Given his history of heart disease, cardiac and neurologist investigations were carried out which included MRI of the brain, lumbar puncture, 2-D echocardiogram, carotid Doppler and complete blood test.

“All investigations were within normal range and he was kept for observation for a few more days and is planned to be discharged on Dec 15, 2011, to rest at home, as advised, and to continue on his regular heart medications.”

The presidency’s spokesman said Mr Zardari was to be discharged on Thursday, but later it was decided to shift him home on Wednesday night.

Asked to tell what had happened to the president that forced him to travel to Dubai for treatment, he said: “I cannot say anything more than what has been described in the medical bulletin.”

A prominent heart specialist and a neurosurgeon said the medical bulletin had suggested that the president had suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which means a minor heart attack.

They said the bulletin also indicated that Mr Zardari had undergone all necessary tests, but he was normal and not in any danger.

President Zardari is a heart patient and had undergone angioplasty in 2005. He has also been suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes.

According to medical experts, TIA is a warning sign that a “real stroke” may happen in future if something is not done to prevent it.

AMBIGUITY PRESERVED: Interestingly, no one in the government is ready to remove the ambiguity about the president’s health and his plans to return home amid opposition claims that Mr Zardari is staying in Dubai not because of health problems but for “some other reasons”.

Although the doctors have given a clean bill of health to the president and allowed him to rest at home, they didn’t specify in the medical bulletin whether he can travel or not.

“I cannot give a confirmed date about his return as it depends whether and when the doctors permit him to travel,” said Farhatullah Babar, the presidency’s spokesman.

He said the “doctors have allowed the president to take rest at home, but I am not sure whether he has been advised to do so in Dubai or Islamabad”.

In reply to a question about PPP leader Khurshid Shah’s claim during a TV show on Tuesday that the president would return by Dec 27 and address a public meeting at Naudero on the occasion of the fourth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, the spokesman said: “It can be a hope.”

However, another PPP leader, Faisal Raza Abidi, said in a TV talk show that the president would return to the country in four to five days.

The opposition and a section of society believe that it is not a health issue. but the president has preferred to stay out of the country at least till Dec 19 _ the day the Supreme Court will start hearing of the memo scandal.


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