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Asif Ali Zardari in Dubai as ties with Army worsens

Thursday, 12 January 2012 - 2:06pm IST Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2012 - 8:43pm IST | Place: ISLAMABAD | Agency: Reuters

In the midst of a continuing army-government stand-off, President Zardari today surprisingly flew to Dubai.

In the midst of a continuing army-government stand-off, President Asif Ali Zardari today surprisingly flew to Dubai but fears of a military coup waned with the focus shifting to a crucial hearing by the Supreme Court on Monday.

Both the powerful army and the government held back their fire a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani summarily sacked Defence Secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired General backed by the army, after he appeared to have toed the line of the military in a case before the apex court.

Speculation that Gilani may act against the Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen Shuja Pasha did not not come true.

Kayani, however, held a meeting with his top commanders at the General Headquarters in the Garrison city of Rawalpindi. The meeting was attended by both the Principal Staff Officers, or senior generals serving at the General Headquarters, and the Corps Commanders, who head formations across the country, sources said.

The issues that figured at the meeting could not be ascertained and there was no word from the military's media wing.

An emergency meeting of the National Assembly called to discuss the situation arising out of the Supreme Court's order adjourned after paying obituary references to spiritual and political leader Pir Pigara and others. The assembly will meet again tomorrow.

The day's surprise development was the sudden decision of Zardari to go to Dubai on a day's visit to attend the wedding of an undisclosed family friend and to possibly undergo a medical check up.  He is expected to return home tomorrow.

The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on Monday of a case relating to alleged corruption at high places in which Zardari figures.  It has come down heavily on Gilani for not not taking action in such cases and threatened to take action against him.

Observers here were of the view that the army was reluctant to stage a coup which may incur the wrath of the Supreme Court.  But the possibility that the Court may take action against Gilani, which could lead to an early poll, was being speculated widely.

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