ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's president said he has no intention of stepping down in the face of allegations his government sought U.S. help in reining in Pakistan's powerful military.
Asif Ali Zardari, speaking in an interview aired Saturday night on Pakistan's Geo News TV, was responding to a question about whether army leaders might seek his resignation.
"No one has asked me yet," Zardari said. "I don't think there is such an innocent in Pakistan who will demand my resignation."
The scandal centers on a memo sent in May to U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. It asked for his help in stopping a supposed army coup after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The unilateral U.S. raid angered and embarrassed Pakistan.
News of the memo first surfaced in October when Mansoor Ijaz, a U.S. businessman of Pakistani origin, wrote a column in the Financial Times claiming Pakistan's former ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, crafted the memo and asked him to send it. Ijaz also claimed the memo had Zardari's support.
Both Haqqani and Zardari's government have denied the allegations, but the envoy resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Pakistan's supreme court has ordered a judicial investigation into the scandal. The government says that probe is unnecessary because a parliamentary board is already investigating.
The Pakistani army, which has denied it ever intended to carry out a coup, was outraged by the memo and supports the Supreme Court investigation.
Talk of Zardari's possible resignation took on momentum when he suddenly left Pakistan for a Dubai hospital in early December where he was treated for as yet unspecified reasons. One of his close associates has said he had suffered a "mini-stroke."
He returned to Pakistan on Dec. 19.
In Saturday's interview, Zardari was asked if leaving again was an option for him, to avoid humiliation or even an arrest by the army.
"Why should it be?" he responded.