Former President Musharraf announces return to Pakistan

DUBAI: Former Pakistani President and military dictator, Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf announced on Friday that he would return to the country within a week after the interim government takes control.

The ex-strongman made the announcement barely weeks before March 16, when assemblies are expected to be dissolved and a caretaker government appointed to oversee general elections in Pakistan.

“I have decided that I will return to Pakistan within one week after the formation of the caretaker government, likely to be set up by March 16,” he told a news conference in Dubai.

Asked if he planned to run for president, Musharraf said: “The presidency will come at a later stage. Now I’m going back for the parliamentary elections and hope my party does well.”

“When I look at these conditions that the country is in, I know that my return to Pakistan is crucial. And I will return to my beloved country,” he said. “Now or never, now or never!”

The former president faces two court warrants for his arrest in connection with the 2006 death of Akbar Bugti and the 2007 assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“People say that there are cases against me and there is danger. I am not afraid of dangers and I leave it to God,” Musharraf said.

The All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chief has been in self-imposed exile for five years since the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was elected into power with a coalition government in 2008.

This is not the first time that Musharraf has announced his plans of returning to his country.

Last year, he said he would fly home to contest elections. However, his plans of returning have yet to materialise. The former military chief had put off his scheduled arrival to Karachi in the last week of January this year on the reported advice of his well-wishers in the army.

He told a group of supporters in New York last month that he had delayed his return because of security concerns.

This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that an elected government is set to complete its full five-year term and transfer power to another administration after general elections in mid-May.

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usman hashmi

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