Musharraf enters politics, says sorry for mistakes

Pak`s ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf has launched a new political party.

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2010, 00:05 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

London: Pakistan`s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Friday announced his much-anticipated return to mainstream politics with an apology for the "political mistakes" of the last years of his regime and promised to start his career with a "clean slate".

Launching his new banner -- the All Pakistan Muslim League -- thousands of miles away from Pakistan, the former
President said he would return to his country and contest the 2013 general elections.

"On this occasion, I apologise to the people of the country," Musharraf, who is on self-imposed exile since the
general election of 2009, said.

The 67-year old also said his party would strive for friendly and peaceful relations with India, but after peaceful resolution of all issues.

"I acknowledge that during the last years of my regime, there were some decisions, which I can term as political mistakes," he said at a crowded press conference in central London.

"... I promise not to commit them again. I start my political career with clean slate," he added.

Since he stepped down in 2008 under an impeachment threat and protests, Musharraf has been living in Britain, home to some 1 million people of Pakistani descent.

Earlier Friday, he said the only way to tackle Pakistan`s problems — which have been exacerbated by recent floods — is to further bolster the army`s role.

Since he stepped down in 2008 under an impeachment threat and protests, Musharraf has been living in London.

Musharraf said the only way to tackle Pakistan`s ailing economy and its political infighting — problems exacerbated by recent floods — is to further bolster the army`s role.

A stronger army is also needed to address the threat of terrorism, he said.

"It`s a serious threat (and) Pakistan is most certainly capable of dealing with it," Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, told the a news channel.

The 67-year-old didn`t say how the army`s strength could be bolstered or what else could be done to tackle terrorism.

Numerous terror plots and attacks, including the 2005 suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters in London and an active plot to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees in Europe, have been seeded in Pakistan`s tribal areas.

Security was tight for the launch, which was taking place at 1 Whitehall Place — a storied and posh former gentlemen`s club. Reporters were swept before coming in, then bomb-sniffing dogs were brought into the room where about 200 people awaited the announcement.

(With agency inputs)