Musharraf endorses military campaign against Taliban, insurgents

      Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has said that he fully supports the military campaign ordered by incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the lawless northwestern tribal areas of the country. According to The Nation, the operation has won wide praise in the United States, where officials were long suspicious that elements of the Pakistani establishment during Musharraf's rule played a double game of supporting extremists. Musharraf, who has been living in London for the past year after resigning from the presidency under heavy political pressure, told CNN's Situation Room programme that his supporters had launched a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, earlier this year as the intended vehicle for his return to Pakistan. According to The Guardian, the former general said he hoped to lead it into the next election. Musharraf , who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999, faces a number of obstacles to his return. Unless there are mid-term elections, the next vote will not be until 2013, and it is unclear how much support his party could count on. His supporters were humiliated in 2008 elections, which led to his resignation. Musharraf could also face legal action if he returned over the imprisonment of judges in the last turbulent months of his rule. His return would draw comparisons to that of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, who was persuaded to end years of self-exile to run for elections, only to be assassinated in December 2007. The killing was blamed on the Pakistani Taliban, but a UN report last month said that Musharraf's government had not done enough to protect the opposition leader. Musharraf's rule was defined after 11 September 2001, when he opted to side with the US in its "war on terror" in Afghanistan and beyond. It became an increasingly unpopular decision at home, particularly after US drones began to target Taliban fighters on the Pakistani side of the border.

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