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Musharraf Returns To Launch Political Comeback

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Pakistan's former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf has arrived in the southern port city of Karachi to launch a political comeback after more than four years of self-imposed exile.

He was accompanied upon his arrival on March 24 by several leading figures from his All Pakistan Muslim League party.

Musharraf is expected to launch his party's campaign for parliamentary elections, which are due on May 11.

RFE/RL’s Mashaal Service reports that hundreds of Musharraf’s supporters were waiting outside Karachi’s international airport with banners, and chanting pro-Musharraf slogans. Some were holding flags with pictures of Musharraf and Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Musharraf, 69, told his supporters that he had come back to “save Pakistan.” Musharraf insisted that he was not daunted by a threat from the Pakistani Taliban to kill him.

"I am very happy that you have come to hear me in a huge number,” he said. “ It is my first day and already hurdles have been created in my political path…There were people who were saying I would not come back and I would get scared. I want to tell you that I am here. Today I came here. I am not afraid."

Upon his arrival in Karachi, Musharraf also told reporters he was ready to tackle all obstacles that might be out in his way.

"There are many challenges. There are security challenges. There are legal challenges. There are political challenges. So, there are several challenges, but we are ready to face them."

Musharraf is also facing potential criminal indictments, including charges concerning the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who resigned as president under pressure in 2008, has been living in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai.

He seized power in 1999 in a bloodless military coup.

In comments to the German publication “Der Spiegel,” Musharraf said he wants to put Pakistani on the road to prosperity and to "free it from terrorism."

Former Judge Picked As Caretaker Premier

Meanwhile, in related news, Pakistan’s election commission has chosen a former high court judge to serve as the country’s caretaker prime minister in the run-up to the May 11 elections.

Mir Hazar Khan Khoso’s appointment was announced on March 24.

The commission chose Khoso out of four nominees submitted by the previous government and opposition.

He was nominated by the outgoing ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

Khoso previously served as chief justice to the high court in southwestern Balochistan province.

The upcoming election will be the first democratic transition of power in the history of the country dominated by periods of military rule.

With reporting by the BBC, AP, Reuters, and AFP