Pervez Musharraf lands in Pakistan after self-exile
The former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf landed in Karachi on Sunday after more than four years in exile, seeking a political comeback despite the fact that he faces criminal charges and death threats from Taliban militants.
Paramilitary rangers and security forces had been awaiting his arrival and drove the former Pakistani President away shortly after he landed in the city of Karachi, not allowing him to meet his supporters.
In his first address since returning to Pakistan, the former President declared his intention to run for office.”I have put my life in danger and have come to Pakistan – to you to be the saviour of this country,” he said at the airport. “I have come to save Pakistan.”
His return was intended as a first step in the rebuilding of his political image after a few years of retired life in both London and Dubai. Pakistan’s political leadership have been struggling since the former general left his office because of an increasingly sinking economy and Islamist extremist fractions on the rise, aggravated by tensions with Washington over Osama Bin Laden’s killing.
He still represents a catalyst force for Pakistan politics and could definitely complicate the country’s next parliamentary elections, scheduled for May.
Many Islamists see him as an enemy for his decision to clearly stand with the US in response to the September 11 attacks. That is also why the Pakistani Taliban vowed to unleash a “death squad” to assassinate him.
Musharraf took power in 1999 after a military coup and was compelled to step down in 2008 after a spreading discontent over his rule and attempts of influencing the judiciary to seek another five-year term.
The former Pakistani President faces not only death threats from the Taliban but also legal charges in his home country. The most important one relates to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as authorities claimed he did not do enough to protect her life, despite numerous threats and a failed assassination months before her death.
Last week, a Pakistani court ruling boosted his decision to return, granting him a pre-emptive bail, to prevent his immediate attest for three charges, including Benazir Bhutto’s death. He now has two weeks to appear in court.
In the meantime, Pakistan’s election commission has appointed Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, a former high court chief justice, to serve as interim Prime Minister in the run up to elections scheduled for May.