Taliban threatens to assassinate Musharraf

Musharraf vows to return to Pakistan to contest May 11 polls despite risk of arrest or death at hands of TTP.

Musharraf to return to homeland after 5 yrs in exile INSIDE
Former military ruler Musharraf is ready to return for upcoming elections after nearly five years in exile [AFP]

The Pakistani Taliban have threatened to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf when he returns to Pakistan from exile on Sunday to contest elections.

The threat on Saturday came after Musharraf said he would return to Pakistan to contest historic elections in May and that he was prepared to risk any danger to his life.

“We have prepared a special squad of suicide bombers for Musharraf,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the AFP news agency. “They will attack Musharraf after he arrives Pakistan.”

The threat was also made in a Taliban video obtained by Reuters news agency.

The video shows Adnan Rasheed, who took part in a previous attempt to assassinate Musharraf, warning the ex-president about returning to the country.

“The mujahideen of Islam have prepared a special squad to send Musharraf to hell. There are suicide bombers, snipers, a special assault unit and a close combat team.”

Protective bail

On Saturday, Musharraf gave a news conference in Dubai confirming that he would be arriving in the port city of Karachi on Sunday to take part in May 11 elections, despite the “fear of the unknown”.

A Pakistani court granted the former president protective bail in a string of legal cases on Saturday, paving the way for his return after nearly five years in self-imposed exile.

He 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. He is also wanted in a separate case in connection with the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a Baloch nationalist leader, in 2006.

Commentators say most of his powerbase has evaporated and that he will only be able to secure at the most a couple of seats for his All Pakistan Muslim League party in the next national assembly.

“Two hundred percent! I am travelling back on Sunday to Pakistan,” he told AFP in Dubai, where he has divided his time with London.

“I will go by land, air or sea… even to the peril of my life this is the oath I took for the country.”

Musharraf seized power in a bloodless military coup when he was army chief of staff in 1999 and left the country after stepping down in August 2008, when Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, was elected president.

The outgoing government led by Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party always insisted that Musharraf would be arrested should he return to the country and last year he delayed a planned homecoming after being threatened with detention.

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch called for Musharraf to face trial on his return for the Bugti and Bhutto cases, as well as for “widespread human rights violations, including the enforced disappearances of thousands of political opponents, particularly from Balochistan province, and [the] torture [of] hundreds of Pakistani terrorism suspects” by the government’s intelligence services during his tenure.

“Musharraf should not be allowed to elude the serious legal proceedings against him on his return to Pakistan,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at HRW. “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.”

Commentators believe that an interim government, set to guide the country during the election campaign, should be in place by Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies