Dubai: Former Pakistani president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf said he has not sought any guarantee for his safe return home but expects world leaders and the [Pakistan] army to stand by him, respecting his stature.
“I did not ask anyone for any guarantee for my safe return but I expect the world leaders to support me, considering my stature as former president and former army chief,” Musharraf told Gulf News in response to media reports that regional powers have brokered a deal with Pakistani politicians and the government for his return from self-imposed exile.
Musharraf had allowed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan from exile from Saudi Arabia after pressure from regional leaders in 2007.
Meanwhile, sources told Gulf News that some leaders from the region have asked Sharif and other Pakistani leaders to provide a safe passage to Musharraf to go back and contest general elections.
However, Musharraf has announced a tentative date of his return to Pakistan.
“Musharraf is expected to fly from Dubai to Karachi on March 24 provided the interim government is announced by March 17,” said Khurram Haris, a spokesperson of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). “He will definitely go back, but the date may change... He will go back within one week of forming the interim government or whenever it happens,” he said.
Haris said invitations have been sent to global media and Musharraf’s supporters to travel with him on March 24.
Around 250 people, including 100 journalists — 50 from Pakistan and 50 from around the world — will join Musharraf on his flight back home. It will be a commercial flight and not a chartered plane. Around 150 APML supporters will also accompany him to Karachi.
Haris said arrangements have been made to provide live coverage of Musharraf’s visit to all television channels and hoped that hundreds of thousands of his supporters would receive him at the Karachi airport.
Musharraf had previously vowed to return to Pakistan on January 31 last year to revive his political career but postponed his plan after the Pakistan People’s Party-led government threatened to arrest him upon arrival.
Moreover, the former president’s friends and the Pakistan army also advised him to stay away from the country.
Musharraf faces charges in a number of cases, including security lapse to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination, ordering force against Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti who was killed in a military operation and giving orders to flush out students from the Lal Masjid in Islamabad.
However, Musharraf is confident that he would not be arrested on arrival because he has not been convicted by a court in any of the cases. He said the arrest warrants were issued against him for not appearing in court.
“I will present myself in court after my return and hope justice will be done because I am not involved in any of the cases,” he said.
The former military chief, who ruled the country from 1999 to 2008, said the next elections must be held under the supervision of the army to ensure transparency.
Musharraf launched his political party APML in exile in October 2011 in a bid to give a third option to the Pakistani electorate.