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Musharraf says the UAE is not a launching pad

January 5, 2011

(By Nadeem Hanif)

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf holds a press conference at his Burj Khalifa apartment.

DUBAI // The former president of Pakistan says he is not using the Emirates as a launching pad to build support for a political comeback in his home country.

However, Pervez Musharraf told a packed news conference yesterday that he intended to return to Pakistan before the new elections.

He also rejected assertions that he was a dictator during his nine years in office, insisting that he was a “self-made, middle-class man” who loved his country.

“I’m not using Dubai as a base,” he said. “It would be wrong to say Dubai is a base because the rules here don’t allow it.

“I believe wherever I am is my base. I travel to the UK, the US and Europe, and I have support there also. I must admit I am surprised so many of the media are here today and I feel from this reaction that there is support for me in Pakistan.”

More than 30 Pakistani reporters, television crews and supporters were squeezed into the press conference, which was at times chaotic in Mr Musharraf’s Burj Khalifa apartment.

The former army general came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999 before leaving office in 2008.

Mr Musharraf said he had the option of continuing to live a comfortable life, doing lecture tours in the West, but wanted to return to Pakistan to help his country.

He was aiming for his All Pakistan Muslim League party to gain a majority in future elections, he said.

“The aim is to go back before the next elections. We need to build the momentum and we will gather that when we reach Pakistan,” he said.

Earlier, he had said the sign of a true democracy was how political parties behaved while in power, not by whether or not they had been elected by the people.

“You should judge a democracy by the government’s performance, not by the simple fact that they were elected to office,” he said.

Source: The National

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