- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was discharged from a hospital in Dubai late Wednesday, and will stay in his house in the Gulf state before returning home, his spokesman said.

Farhatullah Babar couldn’t say when Zardari would fly to Pakistan, but expressed “no doubt” that he would do so. He said he was not sure whether doctors had given the 56-year-old leader permission to travel yet.

Zardari’s illness and his sudden trip abroad have triggered rumors and media reports that Zardari could be set to resign, or even be ousted in a military coup. Officials have denied this, saying he will remain president of the nuclear-armed, violent and politically unstable nation.

So long as the president remains out of Pakistan, the media, his opponents and political observers are likely to continue to wonder whether he is being forced from power.

A close associate of Zardari has said the president suffered a “mini-stroke”, but there has been no official diagnosis.

Earlier, the presidency faxed a statement bearing the letterhead of the American Hospital in Dubai, giving details of Zardari’s health. Signed by a doctor at the hospital, it said on admission the president was complaining of numbness in the left arm, twitching and had suffered a “loss of consciousness that lasted for a few seconds.”

The statement did not give a diagnosis, but said Zardari was to continue taking his regular heart medication.

It said doctors performed procedures including an MRI scan of his brain and a lumbar puncture taking fluid from his spine, and that results “were within normal range.”

A “mini-stroke” is medically known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted, causing symptoms similar to a stroke but not as long-lasting, because with a TIA, the blood supply is restored.

Zardari was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 6.

His absence coincided with domestic political attacks against him over a memo delivered to U.S. officials, asking for Washington’s help in reining in Pakistan’s powerful military.

Zardari had been scheduled to present a statement to the Supreme Court this week explaining his role, if any, in the affair.

The president’s illness also came a week after NATO airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, causing a spike in tensions with the United States.

Zardari had been expected to address a joint session of parliament about the raid, which has triggered a wave of anger in the country at his government’s alliance with Washington.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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