KARACHI, Oct 1: Former president and military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday that he can sense ‘winds of change’ blowing in Pakistan.
Musharraf, appearing via video conference wearing a traditional Sindhi Ajrak shawl on his shoulders, was speaking to workers of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in Karachi.
“I can sense winds of change blowing in Pakistan. The demonstrators are within their right to protest; my sympathies are with them,” he said.
Musharraf was referring to the anti-government protests led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and firebrand cleric Dr Allama Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).
The PTI has been protesting against the government over allegations of rigging in the 2013 general elections, while Qadri has rallied supporters against what he calls Pakistan’s ‘flawed’ political system.
Some analysts say the demonstrations – which have been ongoing for almost 50 days now – have been ‘scripted’ by the country’s powerful military establishment.
Both parties are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who swept to power in the 2013 polls.
Speaking to supporters, Musharraf – who is also facing high treason charges and a number of other legal cases – said that he had returned to contest polls and bring political change to Pakistan.
“Pakistan was in dire need of political change in the 2013 elections: a third force capable of good governance and able to steer the country to safer waters. This is why, despite all hurdles i decided to come back to Pakistan,” he said.
But he added that the legal and security threats he faced after his return were far greater than what he had anticipated. Musharraf said that even after five years since he stepped down, things had barely changed.
“It was the same system and same people,” he said. “If you look at the current situation, you will see that the country is racing towards destruction. What we need is free and fair elections without any form of rigging. First we need electoral reforms before elections in Pakistan,” he added.
The former military ruler said that he had ‘unconstitutionally’ been banned from contesting elections. He said that he would continue to defend himself in court against the treason charges and other legal cases until justice is served.–dawn.com