* Former president’s return to Pakistan unlikely
* Aides say Musharraf may announce his own political party when legal bar ends
By Irfan Bukhari
ISLAMABAD: Former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf is likely to enter politics when a legal bar – which prevents public servants from participating in politics for two years from the date of retirement – ends on November 28.
Although former aides from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), as well as current ones, are unable to make a statement that clarifies the former president’s future political ambitions, they say Musharraf would definitely join practical politics and might announce his own political entity.
Sources – who are in contact with the former president – say that despite the likelihood of Musharraf’s participation in politics after November 28, he is likely to stay abroad until a major shift in his favour in the political situation of the country.
“The recent remarks made by Musharraf against President Asif Ali Zardari were in fact a preface … to a new political chapter. He made the remarks in the backdrop of mounting pressure on Zardari,” said an associate of the former president.
While it is now known that the Chaudhrys of Gujrat no longer associate themselves with Musharraf – which was reflected in their decision to turn down the former president’s request to delay party polls until the expiry of the legal bar – some leaders of the PML-Q still maintain close contacts with him.
“A number of PML-Q leaders – such as Ameer Muqam, Marvi Memon, Nisar Memon, Raza Hayat Hiraj and others – are still affiliated with Musharraf, and may back him to enter politics … creating another fissure within the PML-Q,” said a party source.
At the time of the formation of a “like-minded group” of the PML-Q, it was generally conceived that the bloc was formed at the behest of Musharraf and its members would facilitate him in entering politics after November 28.
Meetings of the chairman of the bloc and the secretary general – Hamid Nasir Chattha and Humayun Akhtar – with Musharraf in London were seen as a step towards the formation of a new party. Musharraf also tried to form his own political party during the last three months of his presidency in 2008 in collaboration with some former PML-Q ministers, but the efforts did not succeed.
Despite the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s proximity with Musharraf during his rule, the party is not ready to bear the burden of the former president’s bid to enter politics. Sources in the MQM claim the party, in fact, refused to become Musharraf’s political partner in July 2008.
“The only potential legal threat that may stop him from returning to Pakistan is an FIR registered against him for the alleged murder of Akbar Bugti,” said the sources.