Supporters of Pakistan's former President, Pervez Musharraf, chant slogans as they carry flags upon his arrival from Dubai at Jinnah International airport in Karachi. REUTERS/Athar Hussain
Amid death and arrest threats, former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf returned to the country on Sunday.
“I am here to save Pakistan,” Mushrraf told the media at the Karachi airport where over thousand supporters had gathered to cheer their leader.
However, due to security reasons, the former military ruler was whisked away soon after his arrival.Musharraf: Pakistani ex-dictator back in line of fire
Talking to journalists at the airport, he said that he faced a number of challenges on his return: “I face political challenges, security challenges and legal challenges,” he said.
Musharraf has already been granted pre-arrest bail in several cases.
Earlier, it was reported in an English newspaper that the retired general had arrived after an understanding was brokered with Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, which was facilitated by the Saudi government. However, when asked, Musharraf refused to comment on this and said that as a Pakistani citizen he had a right to return to his homeland as and when he wished. But he did add that the Saudis were insisting that he not return under the present circumstances.
Addressing his supporters at the airport, Musharraf said that this was not the Pakistan he had left when he went into exile. “We were a strong nation then. Look what we have been reduced to by the present rulers,” he said. He also lamented the fact that his party was denied permission to hold a rally in the city center for security reasons.
Musharraf will stay in Karachi and has based his headquarters at a local hotel here. He told his supporters that he would discuss administrative matters and settle party issues before proceeding to Rawalpindi and Lahore. “I am confident that my supporters will now come out and support me. I am sure that my presence in Pakistan will be a source of strength to them.”
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf (R) arrives with his wife Sehba Musharraf at the Dubai Iinternational airport before his departure to Karachi, in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. AFP photo
Musharraf said that he had been advised by many not to return to Pakistan, especially after the threat issued by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). But he said that he had stayed away too long. “I can give my life for Pakistan. In the past too I have put everything at take for Pakistan,” he told journalists.