Former president Pervez Musharraf on Thursday vowed to face justice and not flee the country in his first interview since being placed under house arrest eight months ago.
“I will face all cases … I will not run away,” he told the ARY television channel in an interview. “These are all fraud (fraudulent) cases which lack any substantial evidence.”
Musharraf has faced a range of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule since returning to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in March. The courts have granted him bail in four main cases, but he remains under virtual house arrest due to threats to his life by the Taliban. He is also on the “exit control list,” which prevents him from traveling out of the country without seeking permission from the government.
In November the government announced it would put the 70-year-old on trial for high treason and he has been ordered to appear before a special court on Dec. 24. The treason accusation relates to Musharraf’s decision in 2007 to impose emergency rule shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier, while he was still Army chief.
There have been persistent rumors that a deal would be struck to allow Musharraf to leave the country without standing trial to avoid a clash between the government and the military. However, aides to the former commando have said he wants to stay and clear his name of all the charges against him. So far the cases have proceeded slowly, edging from adjournment to adjournment with little clear progress apart from the granting of bail.
“I will Insha’Allah (God willing) get out of this pressure because I am pretty sure I did not commit any wrong thing … whatever I did was for the betterment and welfare of Pakistan and its people,” Musharraf told ARY.
When asked if he thinks the present government will complete its tenure, Musharraf said: “My good wishes are with them if they promote good governance. I will support (Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif if he does any good for the country.”
Musharraf overthrew the government of Sharif—elected to power again in May this year—in a bloodless military coup in October 1999, but a year later the Supreme Court validated the takeover.
During the interview, the former general said that he supported the policy of holding peace talks with the Taliban but only from a “position of strength and not weakness.” As president he had ordered several military operations against the insurgents in the troubled northwest.
“Whether it is Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or its chief Maulana Fazalullah, they are our own people who have got distracted. But they should not be begged for any talks … they should know that the state is always very powerful and that they should not challenge the state,” Musharraf said.