General (retd.) Pervaiz Musharraf, Pakistan’s former president and chief of army staff, has announced that he will return to the country on March 24. He is all set to lead his political party, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), in general elections, which are slated for May. In his slew of interviews to national and international media, Musharraf has said that if he does not return to the country on March 24, then he will never be able to return. However, there has been no response from major political parties and Pakistan army on Musharraf’s announced arrival in Pakistan, where he faces trial in a couple of cases, including the murder of former Prime Ministerand Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Pakistani local courts have declared Musharraf absconder in Benazir and Bugti murder cases. Therefore, legal wizards say that authorities may arrest him upon his arrival in the country. The general is accused of complicity in gun-suicide bomb attack on Benazir Bhutto on December 31, 2007, after she addressed an election rally in Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi. A military operation was also launched in Balochistan during Musharraf's regime against militants wherein Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed. Talal Bugti, son of late Akbar Bugti, has nominated Musharraf in the murder and a local court has also issued arrest warrants of Musharraf in the case. The former chief of army staff is also facing a trial in Lal Masjid operation, wherein dozens of innocent children and women were allegedly killed.
A member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party, Raza Rabbani, who is also a senator and prosecutor, said that Musharraf should be arrested upon his arrival in the country because he violated article 6 of the constitution back in 1999 by imposing martial law. It should be noted here that Musharraf led a bloodless military coup on October 12, 1999, ousting the then elected prime minister, Mian Muhammad. The general remained at the helm of affairs until 2008, when Pakistan Peoples’ Party and Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif won the elections. He resigned as president in 2008 after being threatened by political parties for impeachment. Weeks after his resignation, he opted for self-imposed exile in Dubai and London.
After spending around five years in the exile, the general is now all set to return to the country where he may face a slew of challenges ranging from security problems to trials in different courts on different charges. Musharraf’s close aide and ex-major general, Rashid Qureshi, is running from pillar to post these days to ensure guarantees from relevant quarters for his boss. The general plans to fly on a commercial airline to Karachi on March 24 and later address a public gathering of around 50,000 people. A large number of journalists from national and international organizations would also be travelling with him.