KARACHI: Former president Pervez Musharraf made a candid apology to the nation for making ‘political mistakes’ as he began his political career on Friday with the formal launch of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party in London.
The event took place just 11 days prior to the 11th anniversary of his October 12, 1999, coup that toppled the then elected government of Nawaz Sharif.
“I apologise to the nation for my mistakes. (But) I’ve learned from my mistakes,” the ex-military dictator said at the outset, stressing that all he wanted now was to start his political life with a clean slate.
He pledged that if the people of Pakistan gave him their support, he would bring them out of the “current” state of misery.
In a question and answer session with the media later on, he clarified that he had apologised only for the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “The NRO was my mistake,” he said, adding that he had struck a deal with the slain chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party Benazir Bhutto. He claimed that under the terms of the agreement, Bhutto was not supposed to return to the country until the elections were held.
In his speech, Musharraf said the people of Pakistan today were unhappy. And “the country where the people are unhappy gets wiped out,” he said.
He claimed that his nine years in power were his first attempt at bringing about a change in Pakistan. Between 1999 and 2008, “we empowered the people, gave them respect and improved their economic conditions,” he said. He said the time had come for all ‘patriotic’ Pakistanis to stand under the banner of one flag and work towards its progress. “Pakistan comes first,” he mouthed his pet phrase.
“We will remake Quaid’s Pakistan under the banner of the All Pakistan Muslim League,” he said, amid frequent applause and sloganeering by a sizable audience. When asked whether the MQM’s slain leader Imran Farooq was planning to join his party, Musharraf dismissed the reports. Lawyer Naeem Bukhari, who famously wrote the controversial letter that precipitated the stand-off between Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Musharraf in 2007, showered praises on the ex-military leader in his introductory speech.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2010.