KARACHI: RETIRED Gen Pervez Musharraf will reach Karachi on Sunday afternoon after more than four years in self-imposed exile, the former military ruler told a press conference on Saturday.
At the press conference he admitted that he faced an uncertain political future. He also faced security threats from extremists.
Flanked by office-bearers of his party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Gen Musharraf disclosed that he had been advised by the Saudi authorities not to return to Pakistan due to security concerns.
“They expressed concern over my security and told me that I had many enemies back home. I told them that I have had enemies for the past 12 years,” he said in reply to a question by Dawn.
The former president said he might contest election for a constituency in Chitral or Thar, but admitted that a single seat in the National Assembly would not allow him to break “the existing political stalemate”.
Characterising the politicians who once supported him as “floaters”, Gen Musharraf said if he did succeed in breaking the stalemate all the “floaters” would be by his side again.
Drawing comparisons with Imran Khan and the late Gen Ayub Khan, he said he was still very popular in Pakistan. “I have more followers on the Facebook [website] than Imran Khan. I have more than 770,000 friends on Facebook — 120,000 more than Imran.”
He went on to claim that he and Gen Ayub were the most popular army chiefs in the country’s history.
Gen Musharraf reiterated his stance on the proposed role of the military in governance. “I have always supported the concept of national security council for giving a formal role to the military in governance. But I will not say that the military should influence the government.”
At the start of the press conference, the APML supporters began chanting “Shair ayaa”, but quickly reverted to the slogan “Pervez Ayaa”, realising that the term “shair” could be confused with ‘tiger’, the election symbol of the PML-N.
Pervez Musharraf ended his press conference by saying that he did not regret any of his decisions made during his years as chief executive or president of the country.
FLIGHT BACK HOME: Supporters of the former military ruler have booked an entire Emirates flight for Karachi, It will leave Dubai at 10.40am (PST) and reach Karachi at 12.40pm.
WORLD MEDIA INDIFFERENT: His return seems to have been ignored by the international media. Even though a number of Pakistani journalists will be accompanying the former president on his homecoming, the foreign media will be represented only by the BBC. In contrast, many foreign journalists had accompanied former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on her journey from Dubai to Karachi that ended her exile.
Even his press conference was attended mainly by the APML office-bearers.