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Zardari gets back to work

December 19, 2011 21:39 IST

President Asif Ali Zardari resumed his public engagements on Monday after returning to Pakistan following a nearly fortnight-long stay in Dubai which had triggered speculation that he might step down under pressure from the military.

Zardari held meetings with leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement hours after he flew into a Pakistan Air Force base in Karachi early Monday morning.

The President met Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, a senior leader of the MQM, and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah at Bilawal House, Zardari's private residence in Karachi.

The leaders called on Zardari to inquire about his health.

Zardari also met Senate Chairman Farooq Naek, who was acting President while he was in Dubai to seek treatment for a heart condition.

State-run PTV aired footage of the meetings that showed a relaxed-looking and smiling Zardari.

The 56-year-old President's abrupt departure for Dubai on December 6 sparked rumours and rampant speculation that he might quit due to pressure from the powerful army over an alleged memo that had sought US help to prevent a feared coup after the American raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

Zardari arrived in Pakistan hours before the Supreme Court resumed hearing several petitions seeking a probe into the Memogate scandal.

PPP officials said Zardari was expected to remain in Karachi for the next few days.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to visit Karachi to meet Zardari, who also heads the PPP, and a meeting of the federal cabinet is likely to be held in the southern port city on Wednesday.

Several PPP leaders, including Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, told the media that Zardari's return to the country proved he was not afraid of confronting his detractors.

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