Musharraf prepares comeback bid with new Pakistan party

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Exiled former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf set out his plan Friday to return to politics in his country with the launch of a new party to galvanise his support.

The retired general was due to formally unveil the All Pakistan Muslim League in London to contest the next elections in 2013, although he told the BBC he would return from his self-imposed two-year exile in Britain before then.

"I am in the process of creating an environment -- the stronger I am politically, the more ground there will be for me to go and protect myself also," Musharraf told BBC radio.

He brushed off the threat of treason charges he could face on his return, but admitted there were "other dangers", including assassination attempts from Islamists, who twice tried to kill him when he was in power.

"I'll take the risk, but I'll take the risk at the right time," Musharraf said. He did not say exactly when he would return, but said: "I won't wait until 2013."

The 67-year-old quit as president in August 2008 after a new government led by the party of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto threatened to impeach him. He was replaced by President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower.

Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and he warned this week that Pakistan was at risk of a new coup against Zardari.

He also called for the army to be given a constitutional role in the turbulent politics of the nuclear-armed nation.

He repeated this in the interview Friday, saying the military were the only resort for Pakistani people frustrated with their government as it struggles with rampant militancy and a crumbling economy.

"We cannot allow Pakistan to disintegrate, that cannot be allowed. No Pakistani will allow that, no Pakistani wants that. So who's the saviour?," he said.

"The army can do it. Can anyone else do it? No, nobody else can do it. So therefore the answer is the army gets involved."

© 2010 AFP

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