ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was being treated in a Dubai hospital Wednesday after complaining of chest and arm pains, officials said, denying rumors that the embattled and unpopular leader may be stepping down.
Some reports said Zardari, who in September underwent medical tests for his heart in Britain, may have suffered a mild heart attack.
In London, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan said he spoke over the telephone to the 56-year-old leader on Tuesday night in Dubai and to his family members at the hospital on Wednesday.
Hasan told The Associated Press the doctors in the UAE confirmed Zardari has a heart condition, known as angina, but it wasn't clear yet whether he had suffered a heart attack.
"Whatever the case, he has no immediate plans to step down," Hasan said.
News that he had traveled to Dubai provoked speculation in Pakistan's febrile media and political world that Zardari may use ill health as a pretext for stepping down under pressure from the country's powerful military.
An article published Tuesday on the website of Foreign Policy magazine appeared to be the main source of the rumor that was spread via Twitter and Pakistani television news channels.
The president has been under fresh pressure recently since the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., a key ally, was forced to resign after allegations he sent a memo to Washington asking for its help in reigning in the military. Military coups, and rumors of them, have long been a regular feature of political life in Pakistan.
Zardari, a canny political operator with many enemies in the media and political elite, has survived several predictions of his downfall since he became president in 2008.
The Foreign Policy magazine quoted an unnamed former U.S. government official as saying Zardari was "incoherent" when he spoke with President Barack Obama by telephone over the weekend. Parts of the U.S. government were informed that Zardari had a "minor heart attack" on Monday night and may resign on account of "ill health" amid the uproar over the memo scandal, said the official.
"All these reports are untrue, imaginary and speculative," said his spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, adding the president's condition was "not serious, not dangerous" and he would return to Pakistan soon.
Hasan said that Zardari also suffered from diabetes and ulcers and that doctors were consulting on whether he may need follow-up care.
Zardari traveled to Dubai on Tuesday following symptoms "related to his pre-existing heart condition" after his children insisted he do so, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office said in a statement. The statement said Zardari was "stable" and would "remain under observation and return to resume his normal functions as advised by the doctors."=
In September, Zardari underwent an angiography -- a medical imaging technique used to visualize the blood vessels of the heart -- and some routine medical tests at London's Royal Brompton Hospital and was reported to have received a clean bill of health.