* Former president tells Guardian he is not in exile
* Starts lecture tour of US next Tuesday, focusing on his expertise about militancy
Retirement has been an unsettling experience for former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf, reports the Guardian.
His simple home in London, a sobering change from the pomp of his nine-year rule over Pakistan, is guarded by a team of retired Pakistani commandos and a protection detail from the Scotland Yard. The question is how long he will stay, the report points out. He told the Guardian, “I am not in exile.”
Back home, the opposition led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif wants him tried for treason.
Few believe Musharraf will face a trial in the near future. The army opposes a treason charge. So does President Asif Ali Zardari. For now, however, they want him to stay away.
The general lives well, dining at the Dorchester hotel, playing golf and hosting musical evenings at home. He regularly plays bridge with Brig (r) Niaz Ahmed and insists on protocol.
The report cited a senior Pakistani official as saying Musharraf pays £450 to hire a VIP lounge every time he flies from or to Heathrow airport, and travels in a bullet-proof vehicle.
When Lord Nazir Ahmed, a trenchant critic, tabled a parliamentary question about the cost of security arrangements, the government replied that it was “established Home Office policy not to comment on protective security arrangements and their related costs”.
The Pakistan-born peer says he is collecting evidence for a possible war crimes prosecution through solicitors, who pursued Augusto Pinochet in the late 1990s.
British government officials do not want Musharraf to stay for long. A senior official said he was on a visitor’s visa and predicted he would take up permanent residence in the Middle East or in the US where his son lives.
Lectures: Musharraf starts a 40-day lecture tour of the US next Tuesday. He has said the talks will focus on his expertise about militancy, but also seek to redress Pakistan’s poor international image.
“I enjoy the opportunity to clear up misperceptions.” The 16 lectures have been organised by the Harry Walker Agency, whose other speakers include former US vice president Dick Cheney. Among the organisations he will address is the Young Presidents’ Organisation.
The prospect of Musharraf being tried for treason has stirred a storm of spicy political allegations in Pakistan. His side has been bolstered by a series of allegations against arch-nemesis, Nawaz.
These include receiving cash from a spy agency to help scupper former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s chances in the 1990 election and frequent meetings with Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.