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Musharraf plans return, looks to Army for security

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Attacks Nawaz, Zardari policies

By Rauf Klasra

LONDON: Former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf finally kicked off his campaign to return to Pakistan as he launched an attack on Saturday from Dubai against his political rivals — Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari — and their poor governance and said the Army would provide him security on his return within coming months.

Musharraf said if the military was under any constraints not to provide him security, he would raise his own private security on his return to Pakistan in the coming months to face both Nawaz Sahrif and Asif Ali Zardari.

General Musharraf told his top aides in a six-hour-long marathon meeting in Dubai on Saturday that he was willing to face any legal proceedings against him and would even face jail if a fair trial was conducted. “I have many top legal minds assisting me and they will come to my aid if I need them,” he was quoted by sources as saying during the crucial meeting.

Top sources told The News in London that Gen Musharraf had convened a meeting at his flat in downtown Dubai, which was attended by former foreign minister Khurshid Kusuri, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Raza Hiraj, Ch Shahbaz, Barrister Saif, Ch Fawwad, Dr Amjad, Lt Gen (retd) Muzaffar, ex-QMG, and Maj Gen (retd) Rashid Quershi. The meeting lasted for over six hours. The deteriorating law and order situation and economic meltdown in Pakistan was discussed in detail.

Sources said General (retd) Musharraf vowed to return to Pakistan in the Dubai meeting aimed at chalking out his return strategy. This was first time he held a serious meeting with his aides to stage a comeback to Pakistan and face his main rival Nawaz Sharif.

During his discourse, Musharraf made it clear whatever he did in curtailing the activities of extremist elements, he did it in his capacity as the president and Army chief. “This is exactly in the same manner as the current set up: the chief executive, the army chief and the corp commanders of Peshawar and Rawalpindi were carrying out their duties,” he told his aides.

One source said that Gen Musharraf actually sent a message to present Pakistani leadership and his key opponents who wanted to put him on trial that even present military leadership was busy in the same activities as it was the call of duty.

Sources said that the timetable for the return of Gen Musharraf to Pakistan and launching of the political party also came under discussion. Many views were exchanged on all the subjects. Musharraf was said to be very confident about his return to Pakistan. During his meeting with his former colleagues he addressed the concerns and questions, which might have been in their minds. Musharraf emphasized that it was the duty of the government, the armed forces and the paramilitary forces to contain the extremists and protect the people.

He said he had served the country well (much and far better than the bad governance and misrule of the last two and a half years rule of the PPP and the PML-N). He said that the people were in far better position than they were in now. He stated that he got hundreds of messages every day in praise of his years in office. He further deliberated that after serving for nine years and attaining the highest offices in the army and as head of the state, he was not really aspiring for any personal political gain, but wanted to help Pakistan from sliding further down. He said the present political leadership of the country was not capable to serve the people and their repeated coming to office, for the third and fourth time, in the past two decades had shown that they were void of any acumen to provide good governance or even learnt anything from their past mistakes.

The sources said Musharraf appreciated the efforts of the leaders of various factions of the Muslim League uniting against the PML-N and wished them well. He stated that he was not against the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and would be very happy to receive them. He further reiterated that his doors were open for all his former colleagues and called upon them to shun their differences.

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