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Central & South Asia

Pervez Musharraf flying back to Pakistan

Former president is due to address rally in city of Karachi on arrival.
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2013 07:35
Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, and later stepped down in August 2008 [Reuters]

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is flying back home after more than four years in self-imposed exile, saying he is unfazed by a death threat from the Pakistani Taliban.

Sunday's journey to Karachi is intended as the first step in a possible political comeback of Musharraf, a former general who angered Islamic groups and others by siding with the United States in the response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Musharraf, 69, will arrive in Karachi on a commercial flight at 0800GMT and address a rally at the heavily secured airport.

On Saturday, the Pakistani Taliban threatened to assassinate Musharraf on his return in a video showing Adnan Rasheed, who took part in a previous attempt to assassinate him.

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, former legal advisor to Musharraf and current vice-president of the All Pakistan Muslim League, told Al Jazeera that the threats were "all cock-and-bull stories" meant to prevent him from returning to Pakistan.

"The reception that he will be getting will be indicative of his level of popularity," Kasuri said.

Pending charges

Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup when he was the army chief of staff in 1999, and stepped down in August 2008. 

He is wanted by Pakistani courts over the death of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, who was assassinated in 2007 as well as for the 2006 death of Akbar Bugti, a Baluch rebel leader in the southwest, and for the 2007 sacking and illegal arrest of judges. 

Last week, a Pakistan court granted him a pre-emptive bail, preventing his immediate arrest, and giving him 10 days to appear in court. Musharraf has dismissed the charges as baseless.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Pakistani government to hold Musharraf accountable for widespread and serious rights abuses under his rule.

"Only by ensuring that Musharraf faces the well-documented outstanding charges against him can Pakistan put an end to the military's impunity for abuses," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at HRW.

Under Musharraf's rule, the military and intelligence agencies committed widespread rights violations, including the enforced disappearances of thousands of political opponents and tortured hundreds of terrorism suspects, HRW said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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