24 March, 2013

Musharraf heads back to Pakistan despite threats

Musharraf heads back to Pakistan despite threats

Gen Musharraf has tweeted a photo of himself aboard the plane
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories
Profile: Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf delays Pakistan return
Musharraf vows return to Pakistan

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has left Dubai on a plane to Karachi, ending his self-imposed exile and defying death threats.

He said the Taliban had tried and failed to kill him, adding that he was taking precautions because his safety could not always be guaranteed.

General Musharraf plans to lead his party in the May general election.

Meanwhile, 17 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in north-west Pakistan overnight.

They were attacked at a security checkpoint in the tribal region of North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border and a known stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

A recent Taliban video threatened Gen Musharraf with snipers and suicide bombers.

He faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder, but on Friday the Pakistani authorities granted him protective bail in several outstanding cases, freeing him from immediate arrest once he steps foot in Pakistan.'Like a wedding party'

The former leader tweeted a photo of himself aboard the plane, writing: "Settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home. Pakistan First!"

On the way into the airport, the smiling general told the BBC's Orla Guerin it felt like a wedding party.

A group of about 200 supporters and journalists are travelling with the former military ruler - including party members from the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the US.

Before take-off chants of "Long live Pervez Musharraf" broke out on board, says our correspondent.

Some of the general's supporters wore white armbands saying they were ready to give their lives for him.

But aides confirmed a planned mass rally had been called off because authorities withdrew permission. Instead, they said, a rally would be held at the airport in Karachi upon arrival.

The former military leader has lived in London and Dubai since stepping down five years ago.

He has vowed to return several times in the past, but those previous attempts have been abandoned.

No comments: