KARACHI: Although rumours refused to die down about retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s desire to take control of a unified Muttahida Qaumi Move­ment, the former military dictator claimed on Tuesday that he was not interested in the MQM and he wanted to do “something” for the betterment of the Urdu-speaking community.

“I have sympathy for the Mohajirs but no interest in the MQM,” he said. “I will try to do something for the betterment of the Mohajir community.”

He rejected reports that he had a meeting with MQM leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and said that he met Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hassan, the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, in Dubai by chance.

He said that he had been the president of Pakistan, so how could he restrict himself to a regional party like the MQM.

Gen Musharraf has been tacitly trying to unite all factions of the MQM under his leadership. He has met various MQM-Pakistan leaders and is said to be in contact with the leadership of the Pak Sarzameen Party, former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and even those still part of the Altaf Hussain-led MQM-London.

His close aide Ahmed Raza Kasuri recently gave a “plus-one formula”, asking all MQM factions to accept Gen Musharraf as their leader for their own advantage.

He stressed the need for a third political force to challenge the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party. “I will try to unite different political forces to form a third power to challenge the PML-N and PPP,” he said.

When asked about his possible return to Pakistan for his political struggle, the former president said: “I will come back to Pakistan when the court cases against me conclude.”

“The political leadership in Pakistan is prolonging the cases against me,” he added.

Gen Raheel’s extension demanded

Discussing the appointment of the next army chief, Gen Musharraf said that Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif should be given an extension and “he [Raheel] should accept it”.

“Nawaz Sharif did not have a good working relationship with anyone from the military leadership, including [former army chiefs] Abdul Waheed Kakar, Asif Nawaz, Jehangir Karamat and now [the current COAS] Raheel Sharif.”

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