Former War on Terror ally Musharraf returns to Pakistan

I suspect this story will affect the region quite substantially as it develops: former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has returned from self-imposed exile in Dubai.

According to the Guardian, he is “seeking a possible political comeback in defiance of judicial investigations and death threats from Taliban militants.”

Security forces whisked away Musharraf in a convoy of about a dozen vehicles shortly after he touched down in the southern port city of Karachi and did not allow him to greet hundreds of supporters waiting at the airport, ready to shower him with rose petals.

It is unclear if the security forces had detained Musharraf, who faces legal charges, or acted out of concern for his safety. Paramilitary rangers and police had been stationed at the airport awaiting his arrival.

If Musharraf does rise to power again — through legitimate means, perhaps via May’s parliamentary elections, or by hook or crook, as he first seized the reins of state in 1999, in a coup — he could try to obstruct President Obama targeted killings program in western Pakistan.

While president, Musharraf was closely aligned with the US on counterterrorism issues. But in 2010, he “condemned the surge in US drone strikes.”

May’s election, by the way, is scheduled to be Pakistan’s first transition from one civilian government to another — a situation ripe for exploiting by a Machiavellian opportunist with an authoritarian streak.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.