ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari was in Dubai Thursday for a brief scheduled visit, an official said, against a backdrop of mounting tension as his government faces new challenges to its precarious rule.

President Zardari will return to Pakistan on Friday from a trip to Dubai, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

“President Zardari has arrived in Dubai on a private visit and will return tomorrow,” Abdul Basit told Reuters.

The one-day trip came after a confrontation between civilian leaders and the military over a probe into the government’s role in a scandal centred on a mysterious memo that sought US help in curbing the army’s power. A close aide to Zardari told AFP that the president had gone to Dubai for a wedding “and may also have (a) routine medical check-up”.

“This trip will be for a follow-up medical check-up and then he’ll be returning right away,” an associate of Zardari said.

Zardari, who has a long-standing heart condition, spent more than a week in a Dubai hospital for treatment last month in a trip which triggered a frenzy of speculation and coup rumours.

The aide said the latest trip was a “private visit” and not linked to the crisis which erupted Wednesday when the army reacted angrily to criticism from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over a probe into the “Memogate” furore.