Islamabad: After nearly five years in self-exile, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf on Sunday returned to his homeland. Neither arrest threat nor Taliban warning could stop Musharraf from returning to Pakistan.
Musharraf has been living in self-exile in London and Dubai for four-and-a-half years. He risks possible arrest in connection with the killing of an ex-prime minister, while the Pakistani Taliban says they have an assassination team ready for him if he sets foot in the country.
The former four-star general first declared his intention to go back earlier this year. On Saturday, he gave a news conference in Dubai confirming that he would be arriving in the port city of Karachi to take part in May 11 elections despite "fear of the unknown”. Addressing a press conference, the All Pakistan Muslim League chief said that he was going back to Pakistan with the slogan of ‘Save Pakistan’. Musharraf said those creating doubts about his arrival, would realise the true fact on his arrival in Karachi. But just hours after the announcement, the Pakistan Taliban released a video threatening to unleash suicide bombers and snipers against Musharraf if he comes back.
Here is the live coverage of the Pervez Musharraf’s journey from self-exile in Dubai to Pakistan:
7:00 pm: He added, "My party slogan today is save Pakistan. I am thankful and happy to see so many people come to welcome me."
6:46 pm: "Where are the people who said I will never return home. I have been receiving death threats and some people have been trying to scare me but I have returned home for the sake of my country and people," an emotional Musharraf told his supporters.
6:40 pm: "There are a lot of challenges. There are security challenges, legal challenges, political challenges. But I will face them," Musharraf clad in an off white shalwar-kameez said as he made his way out of the aircraft.
6:30 pm: "I have taken a big risk returning home now. But tears come to my eyes seeing the state of the country now. I ask where is the Pakistan I had left five years ago," Musharraf said.
6:22 pm: The former commando-turned-politician said he would soon be launching a countrywide campaign of public rallies and media interaction.
2:45 pm: Musharraf has vowed to save Pakistan and make it a country its citizens would be proud of. According to The Express Tribune, the former president expressed grief over the current state of affairs in Pakistan, saying: “I’m here to save Pakistan, I’m not scared of anyone but Allah”.
2:38 pm: Posting a picture of himself meeting with party workers after he landed, Musharraf tweeted: "Thrilled to be back home. Meeting with APML office bearers and workers. Pakistan First! PM"
2:15 pm: Security forces whisked away Musharraf after he landed in Karachi. The security forces took Musharraf away in a convoy of about a dozen vehicles and did not allow him to greet hundreds of supporters waiting for him at the airport. His planned press conference at the airport was also cancelled and would be held later in the week in Islamabad.
1:45 pm: After arriving in Pakistan, Musharraf told a reporter: “I am nostalgic. I love Pakistan and missed it, but I do not have tears in my eyes.”
1:24 pm : Pervez Musharraf`s plane landed at Jinnah International airport in port city of Karachi by a chartered Emirates flight from Dubai. Amidst huge security, his supporters accorded him a warm welcome.
1:10 pm: Talking to reporters within the aircraft, a smiling Musharraf said: "It is (a) very emotional (moment). I`m going back after four years. There are a lot of challenges. There are security challenges, legal challenges, political challenges. But I will face them".
1:05 pm : Along with a group of around 200 supporters and journalists, Pervez Musharraf is all set to arrive in Karachi.
1:00 pm: Pervez Musharraf will reportedly address a rally in Karachi amidst huge security.
11:40 am: As soon as the 69-year-old boarded the plane, he tweeted: "Settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home. Pakistan First! PM". Reports say that before take-off, chants of "Long live Pervez Musharraf" could be heard on board.
10:35 am : Musharraf`s supporters gathered at Dubai`s international airport for his planned return to his homeland.
10:00 am : The former Pakistani president tweeted a photo of him leaving his Dubai home, clad in a white shalwar-kameez.