ISLAMABAD, March 16: Begum Nusrat Bhutto, former first lady and mother of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, suffered a stroke in Dubai on Sunday and was in a serious condition in a hospital there.

A PPP statement said Begum Bhutto was immediately rushed to a hospital after the stroke and was admitted to an intensive care unit.

It quoted doctors attending her as saying that her condition was “serious”.

Doctors were “struggling to save her life” as Ms Bhutto was by the side of Begum Sahiba at the hospital, the PPP statement said.

“Later tonight (Sunday night) a board of medical doctors will decide whether the former first lady should undergo surgery,” it said.

Ms Bhutto has called her family members, including sister Ms Sanam Bhutto, to Dubai to be present on the occasion.

BENAZIR’S PLEA: In a special urgent message, Ms Bhutto has urged party workers, sympathisers and well-wishers within Pakistan and abroad to pray for the health of her mother. She has requested that special prayers be held “tonight for Begum Sahiba’s recovery.”

Asif applies for parole: Asif Zardari, detained PPP leader on Sunday asked the government to allow him to leave the country for one month to attend his ailing mother-in-law, Begum Nusrat Bhutto in Dubai.

Mr Zardari, who is behind the bars since Nov 5, 1996, has been granted bail in 12 out of 13 pending cases, but has not been released.

The government in recent past, has been releasing him on parole. Advocate Farooq H. Naek, counsel for Mr Zardari told Dawn late on Sunday night that he had faxed the application for his client’s release for one month to attend his ailing mother-in-law, who is in critical condition.

No official was ready to comment on the request. Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat is not the country and reports say he is in Middle East.

Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi, Press Secretary to President Pervez Musharraf, when contacted expressed his ignorance about any such application. He said the query should be made to the government, as president was not concerned with the case.

Secretary of Federal Interior Ministry, Tasneem Noorani was not willing to come on line. Press Secretary to Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, was also not aware of any such move. Similarly, NAB spokesman Maj Ali, expressed ignorance about such move.

Mr Ismail Dheri, secretary to Asif Zardari told Dawn that all the arrangement for his departure have been made and we are waiting for the government decision on his application.

Mr Zardari has offered to furnish “solvent sureties” that he would come back. Ms Bhutto had left the country in 1999, has not come back then.

The National Accountability Bureau, which succeeded Ehtesab Bureau of Mian Nawaz Sharif government, is claiming that Mr Zardari had stashed billions of dollars in foreign banks which he minted during the first and second tenure of his wife as prime minister.

Mr Zardari is in jail for over six years but is carrying no conviction. His only conviction along with Ms Benazir Bhutto in SGS case, was set aside by Supreme Court and the case was sent back for retrial.

The judge who convicted him in 1999, Justice Malik Qayyum, had to leave the judicial institution after the Supreme Court declared him biased.

He has been granted bail by courts in 12 cases so far.

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