Former president Pervez Musharraf returns from exile to Pakistan

Sunday 24 March 2013 16.41
Pervez Musharraf was met by supporters on his arrival back in  Pakistan after four years in exile
Pervez Musharraf was met by supporters on his arrival back in Pakistan after four years in exile

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has arrived in his homeland, ending more than four years in self-exile.

The former general’s flight from Dubai touched down in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi this morning.

Mr Musharraf is seeking a possible political comeback in defiance of judicial probes and death threats from Taliban militants.

The journey from exile is thought to be a first step in his goal of rebuilding his image after years on the political margins.

Since he was forced from power, Pakistan's civilian leadership has struggled with a sinking economy, resilient Islamic extremist factions and tension with the US over drone strikes and the secret raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Worries have been expressed by some analysts that Mr Musharraf’s return could further complicate Pakistan's attempt to hold parliamentary elections in May.

He is viewed as an enemy by many Islamic militants and others for his decision to side with the US in the response to the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

However, his supporters, including elements of the military and members of Pakistan's influential expatriate communities, consider him a strong leader whose voice - even just in parliament - could help stabilise the country.

Mr Musharraf also faces legal charges, including some originating from the probe of the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who also spent time in self-imposed exile in Dubai before returning.

Mr Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and was forced to step down in 2008 amid growing discontent over his rule. He has since lived in Dubai and London.

The Pakistan Taliban released a video on Saturday threatening to use suicide bombers and snipers against Mr Musharraf if he came back.

One of the two people speaking in the video was Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistani air force officer convicted in an attack against Mr Musharraf.

The Taliban broke Mr Rashid out of prison last year, along with nearly 400 other detainees.

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