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Pervez Musharraf says Pak army still backs him

Sunday, 29 December 2013 - 7:39pm IST | Agency: PTI

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, hemmed in by legal woes, had dismissed the notion that Pakistan's powerful army has abandoned him, saying the 6.5 lakh force was still with him.

"I have led my men at Brigadier level and as Chief. Ask the 6.5 lakh personnel," Musharraf said when asked if the Army had abandoned him.

He said he had led the army as a leader and not the commander.

"The real leadership is without the stars on your soldier. Remove it and then see if your men actually listen to you," Musharraf said in an interview to ARY news channel aired last night.

He said the 6.5 lakh-strong Army had not abandoned him.

This was the second interview Musharraf gave to the news network.

In an earlier interview the 70-year-old had sought "forgiveness" for any wrongs he may have committed during his nine-year rule and said he will face all cases against him and not run like a coward.

Asked about the negotiations with the Taliban and other militant groups, he said he supported it but "talks should be held from a position of strength". He said talks are been held from a position of weakness.

Musharraf is set to appear before a Special Court on January 1 on treason charges.

The special court was set up by the Nawaz Sharif government to try the former military ruler for high treason for suspending the constitution in 2007.

The former president is charged with abrogating, subverting, suspending, holding in abeyance and attempting to conspire against the 1973 Constitution by declaring emergency and overthrowing the superior judiciary in November 2007.

On November 17, the government decided to initiate treason proceedings against Musharraf, who came to power in 1999 by toppling a government led by Sharif and ruled till 2008 when he was forced to resign after being threatened with impeachment.

He lived in self-exile for about five years and returned to Pakistan in March to contest elections but was hauled to court in different cases, including one over the 2007 assassination for former premier Benazir Bhutto. 

Musharraf has secured bail in four major cases against him but the trial for treason poses the biggest challenge to the former army commando.

This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a military ruler has been put on trial for treason. If convicted, Musharraf could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year history, has not commented on Musharraf's case.

A Pakistani court on Monday said it was unable to lift a travel ban on Musharraf, who wanted to go abroad to meet his ailing mother.

The government said it was willing to bring Musharraf's 95-year-old mother from Dubai in a special aircraft or an air ambulance as a humanitarian gesture so that the two could be reunited. The government also offered to provide her medical treatment.

But Musharraf rejected "with thanks" the government's offer, saying he had enough resources to bring her back.

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