President tells allies he’s ‘hale and hearty’

President ZardariISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari told Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Wednesday that he was “hale and hearty” as reports about his health sparked rumours that he would resign on the grounds of ill-health following a trail of controversies plaguing his presidency.

Altaf Hussain had called President Zardari, who was admitted to a hospital in Dubai for chest pain, on the phone. Altaf also urged the nation to pray for the president’s quick recovery. Zardari thanked Altaf for this appeal to the nation and told him that he was “all hale and hearty by the grace of the Almighty”.

ANP leader Asfandyar Wali called Zardari to enquire after his health and delivered his best wishes to him. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman also called Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and enquired after the health of the president. Meanwhile, the MQM chief asked the prime minister to convey his sentiments to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The prime minister thanked Altaf for his call and for the MQM’s cooperation in the maintenance of law and order during Myuharram.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum also visited the president at the hospital. Sheikh Mohammad, also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, wished Zardari a swift recovery, the official WAM news agency reported. Outside the special ward at the American Hospital housing Zardari, Pakistani security guards and local officers guarded the area. Party members, diplomats and media milled about, waiting for word on his health. – PT