Zardari, Gilani discuss political situation in Pak

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday reviewed the political situation in Pakistan against the backdrop of tensions caused by the Memogate scandal even as the government denied reports that the President planned to travel to London.

Gilani and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, a key leader of the ruling coalition, called on Zardari at Bilawal House in Karachi Tuesday night.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah too attended the meeting.

This was the first meeting between the President and the Prime Minister since Zardari returned to Pakistan from Dubai on Monday.

Zardari`s abrupt departure for Dubai on December 6 had sparked rumours that he had fled the country because of pressure from the military to resign over the Memogate scandal.

The leaders discussed the "overall political situation with particular reference to the latest developments", presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

Earlier, Interior Minister Rehman Malik called on the Zardari and briefed him on the law and order situation.

Zardari also spoke to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on phone and discussed the current political situation.

Presidential spokesman Babar contradicted reports in a section of the media that Zardari was planning to leave for London. "Reports of his leaving for London are speculative and untrue. The President is in the country, is here to stay and there are no plans to travel abroad," he said.

Zardari is expected to remain in Karachi over the next few days. He is expected to participate in events to be held at Larkana on December 27 to mark the death anniversary of his wife, former premier Benzair Bhutto.

The president returned to Pakistan at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing petitions seeking a probe into the alleged memo that sought US help to help prevent a possible coup in Pakistan after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

The military has urged the apex court to order a thorough investigation into the memo while the government has called for the petitions to be dismissed.

A statement issued by the army on Monday sought to dispel the impression that Zardari had returned to Pakistan from Dubai under a deal with the military.