Musharraf vows return to Pakistan

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musharraf impact iv

Former Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said he is determined to return to Pakistan by March 2012, even if he is arrested.

"Let them arrest me... I'll [still] go back," he told the BBC.

Gen Musharraf is wanted by an anti-terrorist court in Pakistan over accusations he failed to protect the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, from assassination in December 2007.

He describes the case against him as "baseless" and politically led.

Last month, the court ordered the seizure of his properties and freezing of his bank accounts after his continued refusal to respond to the accusations.

"By any stretch of imagination, by any analysis of legal and constitutional issues, I am not involved [in that assassination]. So, I know this case is a hoax and we'll be able to fight it," Gen Musharraf told the BBC

US ally

Gen Musharraf ruled Pakistan for nine years until 2008 and played a prominent role on the world stage during his years in power.

As the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, he is is back in the limelight: reflecting on the stark choices he faced at the time and his decision to turn Pakistan into a frontline state in the US "war on terror".

He insists that no other country sacrificed more in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban than Pakistan.

Under his leadership, Mr Musharraf says, Pakistan achieved several military successes - many of al-Qaeda's top leaders, such as the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were captured or killed in Pakistan.

But he regrets that those military successes were not followed up by political efforts to achieve peace in the region. As a result, he says, the problem of insurgency on the Pakistan-Afghan border has become much more complicated.

Yesterday's man?

Gen Musharraf claims come as he is busy positioning himself to return to a leadership role in Pakistan within six months.

"If there is such politicisation that the courts absolutely go berserk and they arrest me or something, which I don't think is a possibility, well let them arrest me. I'll go to jail. Let's see what happens then. I'll [still] go back."

General Musharraf's opponents describe him as "yesterday's man", with little or no political support.

But perhaps more important in the Pakistani context is where the military stands: would Pakistan's top brass really like to see their former boss at the helm of affairs once again?

Over the next six months, the answer to this crucial question could determine whether or not Mr Musharraf has a future in Pakistani politics.