'Pakistan government must protect me', Musharraf tells Dubai gathering

Former Pakistani president returns home today to contest May elections amid new death threats from Taliban.

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf celebrates Pakistan's national day by a cutting a cake with party supporters in Dubai, where he repeated his call for security when he returns to Pakistan. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // The former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf today demanded security protection from his government when he returns home from the UAE.

The Pakistan Taliban says it will assassinate Mr Musharraf if he returned to contest the May election.

"The government has to provide me with security according to the rules," he said in Dubai today. "I have even written a letter to them to provide me the security that I am supposed to get as an ex-president."

The death threat was made in a video message by Adnan Rasheed, a militant who was among 385 inmates freed when Taliban fighters stormed a Pakistani jail last April, and who has tried before to assassinate Mr Musharraf.

"The mujahideen of Islam have prepared a special squad to send Musharraf to hell. There are suicide bombers, snipers, a special assault unit and a close-combat team," the message says.

Mr Musharraf said the threats were nothing new, but his private security team would remain alert. "I served for 10 years in special services, the people around me … are the best from that group and I expect that they know how to protect me," he said.

He is scheduled to return to Pakistan tomorrow morning with members of his party, the All Pakistan Muslim League. The return coincides with a court decision to grant him pre-arrest bail in several pending cases.

Mr Musharraf has lived between Dubai and London for the past three years.

He faces several criminal charges including conspiracy to assassinate the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007.

* Additional reporting by Reuters