Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf returned home yesterday after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest elections despite the possibility of arrest and a threat from the Taliban to kill him.
Musharraf hopes to regain influence so that his party can win seats in the general election scheduled for May 11, when he will face fierce competition, including from the man he ousted in a military takeover. The former army general, who seized power in a 1999 coup, resigned in 2008 when his allies lost a vote and a new government threatened him with impeachment. He left Pakistan a year later.
About 1,000 supporters chanted slogans outside Karachi’s airport.
Musharraf has been far removed from Pakistan’s troubles during his exile in London and Dubai, with the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) having had little success in tackling corruption, chronic power cuts and rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure
Pakistan may soon have to turn to the IMF again to keep the economy afloat and avoid a balance of payments crisis.
A caretaker government, headed by newly appointed interim Pakistani Prime Minister Hazar Khan Khoso, a former judge, will make preparations for elections.
Musharraf faces charges of failing to provide adequate security to former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination in 2007.
He also faces charges in connection with the death of a separatist leader in Baluchistan Province. He denies any wrongdoing.
Musharraf had been granted bail in advance to avoid being arrested upon his return, but he could be detained at a later date.
Musharraf’s most immediate concern may be Pakistan’s Taliban, who threatened in a video on Saturday to despatch suicide bombers and snipers to kill him and send him to “hell.”
Musharraf dismissed the threats, but a rally he was supposed to hold yesterday afternoon was cancelled. Al-Qaeda assassins have tried to kill Musharraf at least three times in the past.