Pakistan News/Islamabad: Pakistan will arrest former military ruler Pervez Musharraf should he return as announced at the end of the month from three years of self-imposed exile, the interior minister said Wednesday.
“I assure this house that if he lands in Pakistan, he will be arrested because he is a PO (proclaimed offender),” Rehman Malik told the upper house of parliament.
“There are three registered cases against him. He has been named in these cases, so ultimately he will be arrested.”
In a telephone address to a political rally in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi on January 8, Musharraf promised to fly home between January 27-30 to contest general elections now widely expected later this year.
“I’ll land in Karachi despite all sorts of dangers to my life,” he said.
“I can sacrifice my life if need be for the people of Pakistan.”
Musharraf seized power in 1999 in Pakistan’s third military coup, becoming the country’s fourth military ruler.
He was forced to step down as president in August 2008 after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) formed a government following elections. Since then, he has divided his time between London and Dubai.
But in October a Pakistani court issued a warrant for his arrest over the killing of Akbar Bugti, a Baluch rebel leader in the insurgency-torn southwest who died in a cave hideout during an army raid in August 2006.
In February 2011, another court issued a warrant for his arrest over the 2007 assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, saying he failed to provide adequate security to protect her.
In 2009, a criminal case was registered against him over his 2007 state of emergency and detention of judges as he attempted to cling onto power.
Few in Pakistan are thought to want Musharraf to return and the army has stopped short of publicly guaranteeing his safety against the arrest warrants.
A spokesman for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) on Wednesday left the door open to the retired general changing his mind on returning.
“We are not afraid of arrests,” party official Mohammad Ali Saif told AFP.
“We are in consultation with party leaders in this regard and Pervez Musharraf will take the final decision.”
The authorities in Karachi stood by the threat of arrest.
“We’ll go by the order of the court,” provincial home minister Manzoor Wassan told AFP in Karachi, capital of the southern province.
“We have made arrangements for him in prison,” he added.
A security official said forces had been ordered to tighten security from January 27-30 in Karachi “to avoid any untoward incident”.
On October 19, a suicide attack targeting Bhutto’s homecoming killed at least 139 people in Karachi, to date Pakistan’s deadliest militant attack.