Pakistan's corridors of power are rife with rumours and speculation that President Asif Ali Zardari may have to quit, with Army chief Gen Kayani unhappy with him and promoting Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistani media reported.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a three hour long meeting with General Kayani during her recent visit, after which the PPP government withdrew its move in parliament to validate the Musharraf era National Reconciliation Ordinance pardoning Zardari of all crimes.
PPP's ally MQM had openly opposed this move and MQM chief Altaf Hussain had gone to the extent of demanding Zardari's resignation.
Zardari, according to political analyst Shaheen Sehbai in The News, has two options before him: One, either to step down with dignity, or Two, become a figurehead President and give wide powers to the Prime Minister.
Zardari wants to fight back, says Sehbai, and has reportedly gone to the extent of telling his confidantes that he would rather leave the President's House in an ambulance rather than walk out on two legs. But he can hardly carry out this bluster because the Pakistan People's Party as a whole has slowly drifted away from Zardari and the latter is not in a position to play the Sindh card any more.
Some of the cronies are advising Zardari to stay put as a figurehead President and await the return of son Bilawal and daughters Bakhtawar and Assefa to strike back at the opponents at the right time, writes Sehbai.
Restoration of judges, Dismissal and restoration of Punjab's PML-N government, Kerry Lugar bill and dropping of NRO, are being cited as four major reverses for President Zardari.
The Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the other hand, has always made politically correct statements and has received the blessings of the Army generals at all critical junctures, writes Sehbai. It was the Army which delivered the quiet messages to Gilani, and not Zardari, when the judges and later, the Punjab government was to be restored.
It was the Army, writes Sehbai, which asked Gilani to drop the move to validate the NRO.