Pakistan′s former president returns from exile | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 24.03.2013
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Pakistan's former president returns from exile

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has returned from exile as the country heads toward elections in May. Meanwhile, the country's election commission has chosen a caretaker prime minister.

: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf gestures upon his arrival at the Karachi International airport from Dubai, in Karachi on March 24, 2013. Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf returned home after more than four years in exile, defying a Taliban death threat to contest historic general elections. AFP PHOTO/ AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Musharraf in Karachi nach Rückkehr nach Pakistan

Musharraf arrived in his hometown of Karachi on Sunday, flying in from Dubai, where he spent part of his self-imposed exile from Pakistan. He returns hoping to play a role in Pakistan's upcoming elections.

The previous government wrapped up its term in office last week, paving the way for Pakistan to democratically transition from one government to another for the first time in its history as an independent nation. As part of that process, the country's election commission has selected Mir Haar Khan Khoso as interim prime minister ahead of the May 11 elections. Khoso is a former high court chief justice.

Kohso's nomination came down to the wire, as the election commission had until Monday to select someone to head the interim administration.

Pakistan's focus now shifts to the elections, with Musharraf's return adding some tension to the run-up.

Death threats and legal trouble

The former president, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and stepped down in 2008 after facing allegations he was involved in criminal activity, has received death threats from the Taliban in Pakistan. On Saturday, they said they would kill him as soon as he arrived back in Pakistan.

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Pervez Musharraf home, despite threats

"I'm not scared. I'm only afraid of God," Musharraf told his supporters and journalists at the airport in Karachi. "For the sake of my country, wherever I need to go, I will go."

Musharraf had previously supported the US war on terror and had supported measures to combat insurgencies in Pakistan as president.

In an interview a day before his departure, Musharraf was critical of the US operation that killed Osama bid Laden - an operation that took place in Pakistan.

He told the German newsmagazine Spiegel that it was "certainly a success but a success that Pakistani security forces could have achieved," adding "no country has the right to violate the sovereignty of another like the US did there."

Additionally, Musharraf still faces charges over the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the 2006 death of the Baluch rebel leader Akbar Bugti in a military operation, and the 2007 sacking and illegal arrest of judges. In the case of Bhutto's murder, it is thought that Musharraf could have done more to ensure her protection after her return from exile in 2007.

He denies the charges, and has been granted 10 days of protected bail - meaning he will not be arrested for any of these charges for the first 10 days he is in the country.

Before Musharraf's arrival in the country, a suicide attack on a military checkpoint in the North Waziristan region killed 17 members of the security forces. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Taliban and al Qaeda. There was no immediate indication of a connection between the attack and Musharraf's return.

mz/pfd (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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