Destination unknown: Musharraf arrives in Karachi amid speculation

Close aides say the trip was pre-planned: former president will receive treatment at Naval hospital.


Musharraf waves from his vehicle as he leaves Karachi airport. PHOTO: NOMAN AHMAD / EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI:


After weeks of rumours and speculations rife over his fate, former president Pervez Musharraf arrived in Karachi on Saturday evening, on what is dubbed as a short visit.


Musharraf, who left Islamabad for the first time after his indictment, arrived at Terminal One of the Karachi Airport, generally reserved for VVIPs, shortly after 9:00pm and was whisked away amid a massive security operation to his residence in General’s Colony off Zamzama.

The former president was transported onboard a chartered private jet, that left Islamabad at 7:15pm. While Musharraf was en route to Karachi, on ground rumours were swirling that the former president might be flown to Dubai instead.

Soon after landing in Karachi, Musharraf was driven away in a convoy of 18 armoured vehicles, including two mobile jammer vehicles and an ambulance to his residence in the posh vicinity located in Defence, Karachi.

Weeks before Musharraf’s visit, The Express Tribune broke the news that the former president was due in Karachi.

Interestingly, despite upcoming hearings in Islamabad, close aides insisted that the visit had been pre-planned.

“He was planning to spend some time with his daughter there as his wife is in Dubai, taking care of his ailing mother,” said Afshan Adil, an aide to the former president told AFP. “He is also supposed to undergo some diagnostic tests at a Naval hospital there,” she added.

According to All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) spokesperson Zahir Jaferi, 70-year-old Musharraf is expected to stay in Karachi for about over a week, during which he will meet family, friends and office-bearers.

Soon after the private jet carrying the former president landed in Karachi, he was shifted to bomb-proof white SUV, which was parked inside the secure enclosure at the airport.

A heavy contingent of rangers, elite commandoes and Special Security Unit police was deployed to guard Musharraf, who has recently been targeted while being shuttled to the special court for the ongoing treason trial hearing.

Normal traffic was closed to the public for Musharraf’s motorcade which moved along Karachi’s busy Sharea Faisal, where petrol pumps were closed due to security concerns.  Meanwhile, heavy containers were also placed on roads leading to the former president’s residence.

After his indictment for treason last month, this is the first time that Musharraf has left the federal capital.

On Saturday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said, “We are responsible for providing security to Pervez Musharraf and we will do that.”

Earlier, the former military ruler had sought permission to be allowed to visit his mother, who is in her 90s, in the United Arab Emirates. But the court rejected his request due to the cases pending against him.

Currently, Musharraf is on bail in three major cases linked to his time in power, including the murder case of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.


Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2014.

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