Musharraf Returns Pakistan

Musharraf dares rivals to come out

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, March 25, 2013

KARACHI: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf landed in Karachi on Sunday after a self-imposed exile of over four years.
However, he did not draw a huge welcome gathering at Karachi International Airport.
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.
“People said I would not come. Where are those people now? People were trying to scare me. I only fear Allah, no one else,” Musharraf said at Karachi International Airport, as more than 1,000 supporters cheered.
“Where has the Pakistan I left five years ago gone? My heart cries tears of blood when I see the state of the country today,” Musharraf said. “I have come back for you. I want to restore the Pakistan I left.” Musharraf has not spelled out how he would do that as the election race heats up.
The former president was accompanied by around 200 party workers and a number of foreign and Pakistani mediapersons.
The group left Dubai International Airport in the presence of dozens of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) workers and his wife Sehba who were at the airport to see him off.
After Musharraf’s plane landed, everyone was expected to accompany him to a public gathering planned outside the airport. But he was whisked away by security officials.
This sudden movement led to a tense situation among his partymen. Later a party official announced that this was done to avert any security threat to the leader.
At Karachi International Airport people from interior Sindh welcomed Musharraf, as did many APML workers. But it was not a huge gathering as his party leaders claimed.
Security concerns forced him to scrap plans to hold a public rally at the Karachi tomb of Pakistan’s founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah after the Taliban threatened to send a squad of suicide bombers to assassinate him.

QUETTA PROTEST
In the southwestern city of Quetta, hundreds of tribesmen protested at Musharraf’s arrival, chanting “America’s friends are traitors!” and setting fire to a US flag with his picture over it, an AFP reporter saw.
Musharraf met briefly with reporters in Dubai before heading to the airport wearing a white shalwar kameez the traditional loose-fitting outfit in Pakistan and sandals from the country’s Peshawar region near the Afghan border. He mingled with supporters aboard the plane on the way to Karachi, as some of them chanted slogans for his party.
He said that he was not scared of facing any “unknown fear” as people from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces “are here to join me on my return.”
Earlier, Musharraf tweeted that he was “thrilled to be back home” and posted a picture of himself meeting with party workers after he landed.
The journey from exile in Dubai is intended as the first step in his goal of rebuilding his image after years on the political margins.
His decision to return was given a boost last week when a Pakistan court granted him pre-emptive bail essentially preventing his immediate arrest in three cases in which he’s implicated, including Bhutto’s death.
He now has 10 days to appear in court. He has dismissed the various charges as baseless.
His return comes as Pakistan seeks for the first time to hand power from one elected government to another.
The former president plans to spend a few days at a hotel in Karachi, where he and his team will hash out their plan for the upcoming election, said spokeswoman Saima Ali Dada. He will then travel to Islamabad.
Meanwhile, his legal team will meet to decide the best way to respond to the charges against him.
“He is hoping for the best,” said Dada.
Members of the crowd, who were kept waiting for a couple of hours and then could not hear Musharraf’s speech, told AFP they were disappointed.
“The sound system was so poor I couldn’t catch a single word of his speech,” said Afzaal Ahmad, 55, a civil servant who came with his two grandsons.
“It was also quite disappointing that the public meeting (at Jinnah’s tomb) was cancelled, but I am happy that I was at least able to see him for the first time.”
End

~ by jamilkhan on April 1, 2013.

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