ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said he intends going home to enter politics, perhaps standing to become president or prime minister, CNN reported.
Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999 and ruled until stepping down as president in 2008, has raised the possibility of re-entering politics several times over the past year although political analysts have played down the likelihood.
“I certainly am planning to go back to Pakistan and also join politics. The question of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later,” Musharraf told CNN in an interview.
Musharraf left Pakistan about a year ago and spends most of his time in Britain and the United States.
Many Pakistanis welcomed the 1999 coup by the straight-talking army chief, which ended a decade of fractious rule by rival parties tainted by corruption accusations.
But the longer he ruled the more unpopular he became.
In 2007, he became embroiled in a conflict with the judiciary after attempting to dismiss a Supreme Court chief who was expected to challenge Musharraf’s bid to cling to power.
For months, lawyers, joined by opposition party supporters, staged protests across the country, decrying what they described as Musharraf’s dictatorship.
In November 2007, he imposed a brief spell of emergency rule in an attempt to ensure he could hold on to power, outraging many. He later kept a promise to step down as army chief.
He tried to strike a power-sharing deal with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who returned from self-exile in October 2007 to campaign for a general election. But she was assassinated weeks later.
Musharraf’s government said Pakistani Taliban were responsible but in a country where conspiracy theories run rife, many people believed shadowy forces, perhaps close to Musharraf, played a part in her death.
The party that backed Musharraf was humiliated in a February 2008 election, in which Bhutto’s party won the most seats, and Musharraf stepped down later that year.
He threw his country into an unpopular alliance with the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks although some U.S. and Afghan officials said his commitment was half-hearted.
He survived two Islamist bomb attacks and officials spoke of other plots to assassinate him. Asked about concerns regarding his safety if he were to return home, Musharraf said:
“There are security issues. Maybe my wife and my family is more worried than I am but there are security issues which one needs to take into consideration and that is why I’m not laying down any dates for my return,” he said.
“But I do intend launching and declaring my intentions formally, sooner than later,” he said.
He could also face a host of legal dangers.
The Supreme Court, headed by the chief justice Musharraf tried to dismiss, has declared his 2007 imposition of emergency rule unconstitutional, which could be a basis for actions against him.
Polls show that the prime minister Musharraf ousted in 1999, Nawaz Sharif, is Pakistan’s most popular politician and he too has called for Musharraf to be put on trial.
Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Jerry Norton