Updated: 03/24/2013 05:12 | By Agence France-Presse

Pakistan's Musharraf due to return home

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is expected to fly home on Sunday after more than four years in exile, defying a Taliban death threat to contest historic general elections.


Pakistan's Musharraf due to return home

Pakistan's Musharraf due to return home

The 69-year-old ex-dictator says he is prepared to risk any danger to stand for election on May 11, billed to mark the first democratic transition of power in the history of a nuclear-armed country dominated by periods of military rule.

He seized power in a bloodless coup as army chief of staff in 1999 and left the country after stepping down in August 2008, when Asif Ali Zardari was elected president after the murder of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf is expected to arrive in Karachi at around 12:35 pm (0735) on a scheduled flight from Dubai and make his way to the tomb of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father and first president of Pakistan, before holding a public rally.

But after the Pakistani Taliban threatened to dispatch a squad of suicide bombers to assassinate Musharraf, police said they had withdrawn permission for Musharraf to hold the rally for his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party.

Karachi, a city of 18 million, is already in the throes of record political and ethnic violence. On March 3, a huge car bomb killed 50 people in a mainly Shiite Muslim area of the city.

"There are security concerns," police official Tahir Naveed told AFP. "The permission given to the organisation to hold a rally has now been cancelled. The organisation has been informed of the decision. We hope they will cooperate."

But Aasia Ishaq, APML central information secretary, said the party would still go ahead and hold the rally "at any cost".

"We are going to have the meeting tomorrow (Sunday) despite the Taliban threat," she told AFP.

Musharraf on Saturday admitted there was a security risk and expressed concern for his supporters, but said he personally was not frightened.

"I don't get scared... by such kind of threat," he told reporters. As ruler of Pakistan, he escaped three Al-Qaeda assassination attempts.

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