Musharraf opens his election campaign

April 1, 2013 at 12:08 AM
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ISLAMABAD, April 1 (UPI) -- Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former president and parliamentary hopeful, said the country is in a "do-or-die" situation from which only he can rescue it.

The controversial and fugitive retired army general made his comments in an interview with a radio station as he starts his campaign for election in the May 11 polls, a report by online news site FirstPost said.

Musharraf's campaign on behalf of his All Pakistan Muslim League Party begins after the Sindh High Court extended his bail for three weeks in consideration of three pending cases against him.

On court orders, the Federal Investigation Agency alerted airports and border points to stop Musharraf from leaving the country -- only a week after he returned from a 4-year self-imposed exile in London and Dubai.

Security staff helped Musharraf struggle through chanting crowds of supporters and detractors as he left court Friday and the former president had to dodge a shoe thrown at him -- a sign of great disrespect.

Musharraf, 69, is facing three charges, including failing to provide sufficient security to stop the assassination of former President Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 while she was campaigning against him.

He also is wanted in connection with the death of Baluchistan tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79, in August 2006. Bugti, a former Baluchistan province minister turned nationalist rebel, was killed when a shell exploded in his mountain cave headquarters.

The Bugti case surrounds the circumstance in which the government raid on his cave took place and how the shell exploded.

Musharraf, who denies all charges of direct involvement in the Bugti death, hopes to lead the country into financial stability as it nears a crisis for which it may need help from the International Monetary Fund.

There is also a case against Musharraf for the firing and imprisonment of 62 higher judges in November 2007 while he was president.

Musharraf is running against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 63 -- the man he toppled in a bloodless military coup in October 1999. Sharif leads the breakaway Pakistan Muslim League -- Nawaz.

The governing Pakistan People's Party appears in disarray after President Asif Ali Zardari hurriedly left for Dubai where his son and senior party member Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 24, went last week.

Zardari is a former co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the husband of Benazir Bhutto, who served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is regarded as a future leader of the PPP.

But this month Bilawal Bhutto Zardari resigned as co-chairman of the party over disagreements with its direction.

News reports suggested that Zardari is trying to persuade his son to return to Pakistan and play a key role in organizing the party for the upcoming elections even though Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is too young to seek a seat in Parliament. The age mandate is 26 years.

A report by Dawn newspaper said a presidential spokesman denied reports that Zardari went to Dubai to heal the rift between himself, the PPP and his son.

"Going to Dubai is a routine matter for President Zardari," Dawn quotes the presidential spokesman as saying.

A caretaker government, headed by former Judge Hazar Khan Khoso has been installed until the May elections.

Apart from legal issues that could derail Musharraf's chances of political power, there is a death threat from the Taliban.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Musharraf entered the so-called war on terror on the U.S. side, something for which the Taliban and its supporters have never forgiven him.

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