Pakistan's ousted Pervez Musharraf announces return to politics
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former military ruler who left the country amid unrest and legal trouble in 2008, said this week he intends to return home to lead a new political party.
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May face legal prosecution
Musharraf has many enemies and difficult legal and political hurdles to cross. He's had multiple death threats for his role in mixing state institutions with militancy. At the end of his rule when he fired the chief justice, he triggered severe backlash. He then declared emergency rule and imposed censorship rules on the media – eventually leading to his ouster.Skip to next paragraph
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Those actions have not been forgotten. “He will have to face powerful judiciary, and the two rival political forces of ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party and Nawaz Sharif’s PML, and the leading media houses,” says Mr. Sethi, the analyst and editor-in-chief of Pakistani newsweekly The Friday Times.
Musharraf himself acknowledges the opposition he faces back home. "There are elements opposed to me, political elements," he told reporters during his announcement Wednesday. He shrugged off the possibility of facing legal prosecution upon his return. “I am very confident nothing can happen,” he said.
What does the Army say about a possible return?
Sethi says the military is unlikely to go after Musharraf. “The Army is silent and will remain silent,” he says.
Rashed Rahman, editor of the English language Daily Times, agrees. “The military under the new leadership of Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani is very clear on domestic issues. It is not intervening in political matters,” he says.
Retired Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, a close aide to Musharraf, says he's optimistic about Musharraf's prospects on returning to office. He stresses that Musharraf is returning as “reformist” and a “political figure,” not a military ruler.
“Just three days ago, during TV telethon of General Pervez Musharraf, we have collected 250 million rupees [about $3 million for flood victims]. The whole country is in welcome mode for him because they have given up on corrupt politicians of the country,” he says. “In my opinion a considerable percentage of military officers wish him back… but obviously the military doesn’t expose its political leaning.”
Sources close to Musharraf say he plans to launch the All Pakistan Muslim League and publish its manifesto among his supporters in London via a press conference on Oct. 1. Once that's been put out, his return date will be finalized.
“If he returns, it's not going to be risk free," adds Mr. Rahman, the newspaper editor. "The political stakes are high because he doesn’t have a political party structure or working cadre."