Pakistan president had stroke - source
Islamabad - Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who has spent three days in a Dubai hospital, sparking frenzied speculation, "most likely" had a mini stroke, a member of his party said on Friday.
Officials said Zardari was moved out of intensive care at the American Hospital on Thursday but was still being treated, forcing allies to deny rumours that he may resign.
A cabinet member said earlier in the week that he suffered a "minor heart attack" but a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) said on Friday that the cause was "most likely a transient ischemic attack".
Medics describe a transient ischemic attack as a mini stroke that briefly cuts off blood flow to part of the brain, leaving the patient with stroke-like symptoms for a maximum of two hours.
Attacks do not cause lasting damage, but are understood to be an indicator of a possible stroke in the future.
The PPP official said that doctors would announce a final diagnosis shortly.
The Gulf News paper, citing one of Zardari's close aides at the hospital, said it could even be more than two weeks before he returns home.
"He may leave the hospital and rest in his house under observation of doctors, but we want him to stay here because he needs rest", the aide said.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, asked whether Zardari suffered a mild stroke, said: "We don't react to speculations."
The unpopular 56-year-old president has a long-standing heart condition and his admittance to hospital sparked fevered speculation on micro-blogging site Twitter that he may step down.
He is facing a major scandal over the extent to which he was involved in attempts to seek US help to limit the power of Pakistan's military.
Pakistan is also battling perhaps its worst crisis in US relations after Nato air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is responsible for the day-to-day running of the fragile coalition government, which is understood to have tense relations with the military, which effectively controls foreign policy.