Former Pakistan President and military dictator Pervez Musharraf had been fighting a desperate battle for survival in the wake of serious allegations against him in his own country, including that of his implicit involvement in the assassination in December 2007 of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf, who took to power in 1999 after a coup d’etat engineered by him to dethrone the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League, led the country until general elections were held in 2008, which heralded the return of democracy. Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower, became the President of the first civilian government after nine years of military rule. Musharraf was forced to step down in August that year and ever since he has been on a self-imposed exile, charting foreign shores and living out the life of a political expatriate in the cold clime of London or hot air of Dubai. Yet, according to his latest proclamation, his heart has been ‘bleeding’ for Pakistan for long now, and although he had been making noises about his intentions to come back to his home state since last year, this time his announcement appears tinged with a seriousness of purpose. Evidently, we have not seen the end as yet of Pervez Musharraf’s ambitions. He clearly wants to assess the possibility and prospects in the coming elections in Pakistan, once the current government is dissolved on 16 March and an interim caretaker state is formed to oversee the elections within the next 90 days.
However, Musharraf can take the plunge only when he can rope in some political force with considerable mass base, or ally with an existing party. Musharraf had launched his own political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, in June 2010, while in exile in Britain, which intends to partake in the elections, though it might not make any significant inroads on its own in a politically volatile situation in Pakistan. It remains to be seen how Musharraf – who, during his presidential tenure, had tried to forge peace diplomacy with India, and had even become a ‘welcome visitor’ despite the 2002 nuclear flashpoint between the two countries in the wake of the December 2001 Parliament attack in India – takes on the parties that are currently in the lead in Pakistan, Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League and the rising star in the firmament of Pakistani politics, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaaf.