“I am going back to Pakistan to provide a third option to Pakistani electorate and to reverse the economic situation, and improve the law and order situation in the country,” Musharraf told a crowded press conference on Friday to announce his return from self-imposed exile.
However, the journalists were disappointed as he did not give any specific date, but hinted at returning one week after a caretaker government is formed in Pakistan.
The five-year-tenure of the PPP- led (Pakistan People’s Party) coalition government will end on March 16. “The General is considering flying back in the third week of March and most probably on March 23 (Pakistan Day) if a caretaker is formed on time,” a close aide of Musharraf told Gulf News. Musharraf had previously vowed to end his self-imposed exile and fly back to Pakistan on January 31 last year to revive his political career, but he postponed his plan after the government threatened to arrest him upon his arrival.
Moreover, his close associates in the Pakistan army also advised him to stay away from the country then. Musharraf is facing series of arrests warrants for killing of Balochistan leader Nawab Akbar Bugti; former prime minister Benazir Bhutto; and his role in the military operation at the Lal Masque in Islamabad.
“I am ready to face the court and I don’t see any reason for my arrest on arrival,” said a confident Musharraf, who launched his political party – All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in October 2011. “The aim of the APML is to give the people of Pakistan a third option in the general elections,” he said. The former military dictator, who ruled the country from 1999 to 2008, asserted that the next elections should be held under the supervision of army to ensure its transparency. When asked whether he would have enough time to prepare for elections, Musharraf said: “A couple of big public meetings are enough to build the momentum for the elections and the people are already prepared back home [for a change].” He said he and his allies would emerge victorious in the election. Musharraf is relying on new faces in the APML,, as many of his party’s senior members have quit. Members like Ahmad Raza Kasuriand and Major General (retd.) Rashid Qureshi are still holding the fort for him.
Detailing achievements during his tenure, Musharraf said: “Today’s Pakistan is in danger… if immediate steps are not taken to address the grievances of the people. Disappointment and uncertainty amongst the people is increasing due to deteriorating economic, law and order situation – thus leading to mass exodus to foreign countries.”