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Former President Pervez Musharraf.—AFP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani lawmakers on Monday repeated their call for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to be arrested and tried for treason on his return home from self-imposed exile in Dubai.

Meanwhile, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Central Information Secretary Aasia Ishaq said that preparations are in full swing to accord a historic welcome to their party chief.

People of Karachi will receive the APML chief in an unprecedented historic manner, said Aasia while talking to a delegation of the party’s office-bearers belonging to Hyderabad.

Musharraf has said he will return next Sunday to contest elections that are expected in May.

“I am arriving in Pakistan on March 24th. I need your support,” Musharraf said on his Facebook page early Monday, but lawmakers demanded his immediate arrest.

Musharraf is wanted in Pakistan over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of the army, on December 27, 2007.

“A senate resolution adopted in January last year is very clear that he should be arrested and prosecuted,” senator Raza Rabbani, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), told AFP.

“It is the expression of the will of the lawmakers.” The resolution adopted unanimously by the upper house demanded Musharraf's arrest and institution of a treason case against the former dictator, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999. The maximum penalty for treason is hanging.

APML leader Aasia Ishaq said that return of the party chief had instilled passion and warmth among the masses while on the other hand, she added, “the corrupt leaders had been stuck to a state of intimidation because of their inner fear that they would then face strong opposition of the oppressed people under the dynamic leadership of Musharraf.”

Musharraf’s return would be a turning point in the politics of the country because the people wanted to bring about a change in the corrupt political system of the country and Musharraf had the potential to kindle the light of the change, she said.

Pakistani courts have issued warrants for his arrest over the death of Bhutto, whose widower is President Zardari, and the 2006 death of a rebel leader in the southwest.

A caretaker administration is to take over next week to replace President Asif Ali Zardari's government, which became the first elected civilian administration in Pakistan to complete a full five-year term in office.

Musharraf has divided his time between London and Dubai since stepping down in August 2008, and much of his power base in Pakistan has evaporated– AFP/PPI