Musharraf Plans Pakistan Return For Elections

Alex Rossi, Sky News Correspondent
Musharraf Plans Pakistan Return For Elections

Former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf has told Sky News he will return to the country early next year to contest the upcoming general elections - even though he faces death threats, arrest and imprisonment.

General Musharraf - who led Pakistan as both dictator and democratically elected president - said the charges against him are "politically motivated".

He stands accused of conspiracy to murder Benazir Bhutto and treason. Ms Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 while on the campaign trail.

"All the cases against me are absolutely politicised and therefore whatever warrants that are issued are not because the cases are proven because I have not appeared in the court. Legally and constitutionally there are no cases against me," he said.

The four-star General currently divides his time between London and Dubai where he is in self-imposed exile.

He claims though to still have a great deal of support in Pakistan and denies he is yesterday's man.

"Take my Facebook, today we have crossed 500,000 supporters. 92% of them are in Pakistan and out of these more than 50% are between the ages of 18 and 34," he said.

But General Musharraf will not confirm when exactly he will return.

There is scepticism about whether he will actually go back. A trip to Pakistan last January, to launch his second coming as a politician, was cancelled at the last minute.

His detractors say he is not prepared to face the very real risk of imprisonment and arrest.

The 69-year-old has been out of Pakistan for the last four years.

In that time the political landscape has changed dramatically with the former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan gaining a great deal of support. 

"Imran Khan is not a problem for me at all in fact my support base and his are almost the same," General Musharraf told Sky News.

"We are both popular with the youth and the women. We have popularity with the minorities so there is there is a commonality between us."

General Musharraf said if it was in the interests of Pakistan he would join forces with Mr Khan in a political alliance.    

But speaking to Sky's Murnaghan programme, Mr Khan said: "Allying ourselves with General Musharraf right now means that we'll be alienating a large part of the population.

"We at the moment are the party which has a seven million membership. So we feel pretty confident that we can go into this election coming next spring, and we think we'll do very well."

No date has been set for next year's election yet, but the current National Assembly must be dissolved on or before March 18 next year.