Pakistan military says ailing Musharraf should be 'allowed to return' home

The former president and army chief is suffering from multiple organ failure


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Published: Wed 15 Jun 2022, 8:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Jun 2022, 10:37 PM

Pakistan's military said Wednesday that ailing former president and army chief, Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup 23 years ago and ruled for nine years, should be allowed to return to the country.

Musharraf's family said last week the 78-year-old was unlikely to recover from multiple organ failure in Dubai, where he has been since 2016 after being allowed to leave Pakistan for medical treatment.

At the time, the former four-star general was facing multiple court cases related to his period of rule.

"It was the opinion of the institution and its leadership that Pervez Musharraf may return to the country in view of his poor health if the family so desires," Major General Babar Iftikhar, head of the military's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) publicity wing, was quoted as saying by local media.

ISPR confirmed his remark to AFP on Wednesday.

The military has ruled Pakistan at various times since the country gained independence in 1947, and Musharraf was army chief of staff when he seized power in 1999.

While in office, he oversaw a stint of economic growth.

"As a citizen of Pakistan, everyone has the right of return," said leading human rights activist Tahira Abdullah.

Musharraf's popularity plummeted after he declared a state of emergency in late 2007.

After the death of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured and in the 2008 elections left him isolated. His plan to return to power in the 2013 general election was dashed when he was disqualified from running in a poll won by Nawaz Sharif -- the man he took over from in 1999.

On Tuesday, Sharif -- whose brother Shehbaz is now prime minister -- said he supported allowing Musharraf to return.

"I have no personal enmity with Pervez Musharraf and do not want others to undergo an agony that I experienced about my loved ones," he tweeted from London, where he lives in self-imposed exile.

"I pray to Allah the almighty for his health. The government should facilitate him if he wants to come back," Sharif added.

Retired general Talat Masood, now a defence and political analyst, said Musharraf should be allowed to die in peace at home.

"After all, he is a Pakistani... and now wants to spend his last days in the country and he should be allowed," he said.

Liaqat Baloch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, also said Musharraf should be allowed to return.

"We pray to Allah that he recovers soon -- and then he should face the raft of cases pending against him," he said.

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