Musharraf returns per promise
KARACHI: Former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf on Sunday ended nearly four years of self-exile by flying to Karachi despite death threats, and said he would face all challenges that lay ahead.
Musharraf landed at Jinnah International Airport via a chartered Emirates flight from Dubai.Talking to reporters inside the aircraft, a smiling Musharraf said, “It is a very emotional moment. I’m going back after four years.”“There are security challenges, legal challenges and political challenges but I will face them,” said Musharraf, clad in a white shalwar kameez, as he made his way out of the aircraft.“I am feeling concerned about the unknown… there are a lot of unknown factors of terrorism and extremism, unknown factors of legal issues, of how I will be perform (in the elections),” he said.
A TV channel reported that military authorities, through the Defence Ministry, had sent a letter to the Interior Ministry to provide security to the former president.Musharraf’s planned press conference at the airport was cancelled and would be held later in the week in Islamabad.Security and party officials confirmed that the former president had, after consultations with his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) executive members inside the terminal, decided to hold a press conference in Punjab on Wednesday.
“Security officials advised Musharraf after his arrival that he should not hold a press conference, neither try to address a rally because they wanted to take him from the airport to his destination as soon, and as discreetly as possible due to high security risks,” a party member said.He is expected to stay in Karachi for two days before going to Islamabad.Security at the airport was tight in the wake of threats to Musharraf’s life from the Pakistani Taliban.Hundreds of police and paramilitary officials were present inside and outside the airport to provide security cover to the former president.
Sniffer dogs and scanners were used to check all incoming and outgoing vehicles and people at the airport.Hours before his return, authorities in Karachi cancelled permission for a meeting that was to be addressed by Musharraf at a ground near the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.Sindh Police spokesman SSP Imran Shaukat said the no-objection certificate for the public meeting to be addressed by Musharraf had been withdrawn due to “serious security threats” to the former president.
The police had officially informed Musharraf’s party, the APML, about the decision, he said.“The APML has agreed to cancel the public meeting,” he added.Addressing the crowd which had gathered to welcome him at the airport, Musharraf said he had come to Pakistan as promised, despite all threats. He said he was not afraid of anyone except the Almighty. He said he was a practicing Muslim, like many others and rejected all judgements over his character.
The former president said the Pakistan that he had left four years ago had disappeared, adding that it hurt him to witness poverty, unemployment and lawlessness in the country where the masses were being crushed.He claimed he came back for the masses and will give them the Pakistan he had left behind. He appealed to the people of Karachi to help restore peace to the city of lights.Musharraf said he would hold rallies all over the country and try to garner as much political support as possible for the upcoming elections. – PT
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