It increasingly looks likely that President Asif Ali Zardari may not come back to the country. The reports about his health do not appear promising. Official denials aside, the fit that he had last week seems to have damaged his faculties. This is why even UAE’s health care has not addressed the concerns about his well-being and now he is to be shifted to London. His close contacts reveal that they are already in touch with some of the top-ranking neurologists in England. One source says that the initial contact with these specialists reveals that he might be under treatment for a long time. Constitutionally, an impaired president is not something that is acceptable. Neither can a president be absent from duty for such a long time. An interim arrangement can work but not more than three months. The other reasons that militate against his return have to do with his own politics. Of late he has been increasingly paranoid about the situation developing around the presidency. Having enjoyed an unassailable position for three years, he felt that a range of new developments had begun to rock his boat. Supreme Court’s judgment in the NRO case, the Memogate scandal and growing dissension within the party ranks had all contributed to a state of mental siege. His allies continue to falsely believe in his steely nerves and think that he is immune to such pressure. Power is a strange brew. It lifts you up in the skies, but the higher you go the greater the fear of a free fall. A little shake in that condition can shatter the strongest of nerves. There are good reasons to believe that Asif Zardari might use this opportunity to stay out of a messy domestic situation especially if he believes that the noose of events is tightening around him. Pakistan’s recent political history is full of examples of individuals flying out of the country at the first drop of a hint of trouble. Politicians big or small, dictators, dissidents and even writers and scholars all take to their heels when the going gets tough and the life looks rough. The cold comfort of London is a world away from the warm but weary corridors of power that Asif Zardair has left behind. It would require an act of exceptional bravery and political talent for him to return to Islamabad and be the man that he was before last week’s fit. For now the odds are that he is going to chart a future in London.