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‘Protective bail’ paves way for safe Musharraf return

Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said yesterday he would definitely return home tomorrow to contest historic elections in May and that he was prepared to risk any danger to his life.
He announced on his Facebook page that he visited the Kingdom to perform Umrah on Thursday.
He gave an interview with AFP in Dubai just hours after a Pakistani court granted him protective bail in a string of legal cases, paving the way for his return from nearly five years in exile without the risk of immediate arrest.
But commentators say most of his power base has evaporated and that he will only secure at the most a couple of seats for his All Pakistan Muslim League (APLM) party in the next national assembly at the May 11 election.
“Two hundred percent! I am traveling back on Sunday to Pakistan,” he told AFP in Dubai, where he has divided his time with London.
“I will go by land, air or sea ... even to the peril of my life this is the oath I took for the country.”
Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Bhutto, who is cochairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, has accused Musharraf of murdering his mother, and the outgoing government always insisted that Musharraf would be arrested should be return.
“There will be no arrest or anything,” Musharraf told AFP.
He has presented himself as “a third alternative” to the PPP and to opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, whom he ousted in 1999 and who is considered a frontrunner in the May vote, by promising to reverse economic decline and restore security.
He conceded to AFP that his power base was weak, saying he was open to the prospect of a coalition with other parties campaigning for change, including former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. “If I (alone) cannot (succeed) then one must get into coalition. And when you talk about coalition... those who have capability may be contributing toward better governance, should get into (the) coalition,” he told AFP.