Ex-president heads back to Pakistan
Published 24/03/2013 | 21:46
Former president Pervez Musharraf has returned home to Pakistan, hoping to make a political comeback despite Taliban death threats and looming arrest warrants.
But judging by the lacklustre crowd at the airport to greet him, his biggest challenge could be his waning popularity.
Mr Musharraf's return comes as Pakistan is poised to transition from one democratically elected government to another - a first for a country that has experienced three coups since its inception in 1947.
After years on the margins of Pakistani politics, Mr Musharraf is seeking to rebuild his image, hoping to capitalise on an electorate frustrated with five years of rising inflation, rolling blackouts and security problems.
Mr Musharraf, a four-star general who was chief of the army, took power in a 1999 coup and his military-led regime steered the country for nearly a decade until he was forced to step down in 2008 as president.
Confronted with mounting criticism and widespread protests after he tried to dismiss a popular chief justice, he left facing impeachment by the newly elected parliament. He later left the country to live in London and Dubai. He had promised to return many times before but on Sunday finally boarded a plane in Dubai with supporters and journalists.
Stepping out of the terminal at Karachi Airport, surrounded by police and supporters, he portrayed himself as a saviour offering a return to prosperity and stability.
He declared: "I have come back for you. I want you to get back the Pakistan that I had left when we used to feel proud in ourselves."
Human Rights Watch has called on Pakistan's government to prosecute him for abuses he is alleged to have committed during his time in office.
Regardless of his political future, Mr Musharraf appeared happy to be back on Pakistani soil. Soon after he landed, Musharraf tweeted: "Thrilled to be back home."