Musharraf seeks to be Pakistan`s PM

Musharraf could face criminal trial if he lands in Pak for detaining judges.

Last Updated: May 21, 2010, 17:53 PM IST

Washington: Pakistan`s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that he planned to return from exile and re-enter politics, and did not rule out a new bid for the presidency.

Musharraf, who has mostly lived in London since losing power following 2008 elections, visited Washington this week and met quietly with prominent Pakistanis at an elite hotel.

In an interview with CNN, Musharraf said he intended to return to politics, although he did not set a time-frame.

"I certainly am planning to go back to Pakistan and also join politics. The question already of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later," he said.

Officials in Pakistan earlier said Musharraf had applied to register a new party with electoral authorities, setting the stage for a political comeback.

But Musharraf could face a criminal trial if he returns to Pakistan for detaining judges in 2007 as he attempted to cling to power.

Musharraf is also wanted for questioning over allegations in a UN-led investigation that he could have done more to prevent the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf said he disagreed with the UN report.

"In fact, it was me who warned her about the threat to her," Musharraf said.

Musharraf said he had previously stopped Bhutto from going to the venue where she was later killed by Islamic extremist.

"A lot of political aspersions were cast on me that her movements are being restricted. But she decided to go again," Musharraf said.

"I think all the security was provided," he said.

Bhutto`s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, replaced Musharraf as president in 2008. Musharraf would face formidable odds in any return to the politics to match the political machinery of Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Musharraf said that he fully supported the military campaign ordered by Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the lawless northwestern tribal areas.

The operation has won wide praise in the United States, where officials were long suspicious that elements of the Pakistani establishment during Musharraf`s rule played a double-game of supporting extremists.