January 08, 2012

Musharraf to address rally, expected to announce when he will return to Pakistan

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will address supporters at a rally in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday via a video link, and announce exactly when he plans to return to his home country, a party spokesman said.
Musharraf, who resigned in 2008, is expected to fly into Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates later this month, accompanied by up to 500 supporters, said Jawed Siddiqi, spokesman for the former president's All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party.
Siddiqi said Musharraf will return to Pakistan between January 27 and 31, but the exact date will be announced at the rally, after which normal campaigning will begin.
Elections are set to take place in Pakistan next year; Musharraf intends to run.
The former president's expected return, however, could be complicated. He may face the possibility of arrest, Siddiqi said, stemming from the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

"President Musharraf told me that although the possibility of arrest is there -- there is no way of knowing what will happen, and how dangerous the situation is, until one jumps into the situation head first," he said.
When asked about the risk of arrest, Musharraf's attorney, Fawad Chaudhry, said the threat is politically motivated and has no legal bearing. An arrest warrant has been issued for Musharraf, in connection with Bhutto's assassination, but that warrant is being challenged in court, the attorney said.
He described the claim that Musharraf could be arrested at any time upon return as "absurd."
Musharraf resigned in 2008 as the country's ruling coalition began taking steps to impeach him. He was succeeded by Asif Zardari, Bhutto's widower.
In 2010, the United Nations released a report that said Musharraf's government had failed to protect Bhutto before her 2007 assassination.
Musharraf has rejected such accusations, saying that Bhutto had police protection and took unnecessary risks.
Bhutto's assassination turned public opinion strongly against Musharraf in 2008 and led to his resignation and self-exile in London.
In 2010, Musharraf said the timing of his return to Pakistan would depend on the environment there.
"My going back is dependent, certainly, on an environment to be created in Pakistan and also, I would say, with certainty, that whenever the signs of the next election comes up, I will be there in Pakistan," he said.

CNN's Aliza Kassim and Shaan Khan contributed to this report.

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