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Pak dismisses reports of Zardari delaying his return
March 11, 2009 21:01 IST
Pakistan government on Wednesday dismissed reports in a section of media that President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] intended to travel to Dubai [Images] from Tehran, where he is attending a regional summit, because of a brewing political crisis in the country.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar contradicted media reports about Zardari going to Dubai from Tehran, where he is participating in a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation, instead of returning to Islamabad [Images].
"The reports of his staying in Dubai and postponing his return to Islamabad are absolutely false, mischievous and seem deliberately designed to cause confusion," Babar said in a statement.
Zardari is scheduled to return to Pakistan at the end of his two-day visit of Iran, he said. "There is no change in the President's scheduled return to Islamabad," Babar added.
The ruling Pakistan People's Party, which is headed by Zardari, has been engaged in a tense stand-off with the main opposition PML-N since the Supreme Court last month barred PML-N leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif from contesting polls and holding elected office. Following the verdict, Zardari imposed Governor's Rule in Punjab province, which was ruled by the PML-N.
Matters came to a head after the PML-N threw its weight behind a "long march" to Islamabad by the lawyers' movement to press for the reinstatement of judges sacked during the 2007 emergency. The march will begin from several places on Thursday.
The government has said it is determined to prevent the protestors from entering the capital. It has also said former premier Nawaz Sharif's [Images] call for a rebellion against the government amounted to sedition, an act that can be punished with life imprisonment.
Authorities on Tuesday launched a crackdown on opposition political activists and lawyers, detaining hundreds of people as part of efforts to thwart the long march, which is scheduled to culminate with a sit-in outside Parliament.