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Ex-president Musharraf vows return to Pakistan politics

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Musharraf vows return to Pakistan politics
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Musharraf strongly implies he wants to be prime minister
  • He says he had warned Bhutto of threats before her assassination
  • He says drone attacks could be radicalizing Pakistanis
  • Musharraf supports blocking of Facebook after drawings of Mohammed surfaced
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(CNN) -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf plans to return to Pakistan and to re-enter politics, he told CNN Thursday.

Musharraf declined to commit to seeking a particular office, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "the question... of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later."

But he strongly implied he wants to be prime minister.

"We run a parliamentary system there" Musharraf told Blitzer. "So you have to -- your party has to win in the election. Then only do you decide to run."

"Basically, you are heading the party, you are running for the prime ministership," he said. "Because in Pakistan, the chief executive is the prime minister, not the president."

Musharraf, who resigned as president under pressure in 2008 and left the country about a year ago, said he's unsure about the exact timing of his return.

"It is related to the elections in Pakistan," he said. "I am very sure of one thing, that whether it's end-term elections or midterm elections, I will be there before those elections."

Midterm elections could come next year, Musharraf said.

Musharraf also said that security concerns were shaping his decision on when to announce his return.

"Maybe my wife and my family (are) more worried than I am," he said Thursday. "But there are security issues which one needs to take into consideration. And that is why I'm not laying down any dates for my return."

"But," he added, "I do intend launching and declaring my intentions formally sooner rather than later."

The former Pakistani president took issue with a United Nations report released last month that said Musharraf's government failed to protect former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination.

"It was me who warned her about the threat to her," Musharraf said. "It was I who stopped her from going to that venue once before, to which a lot of political aspersions were cast on me that her movements are being restricted. But she decided to go again."

"All the security, wherever possible... by the police was provided to her," he said.

Asked if he would do anything differently if he could relive the experience, Musharraf said, "I think the same would have been done."

Musharraf also criticized the reported use of unmanned aircraft by the U.S. against militants in Pakistan, saying the "indiscriminate use of the drones... is having a negative impact in the public because of the collateral damage."

He said the attacks could be radicalizing Pakistanis and referred to Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American charged with the failed Times Square bombing. "I wonder whether this Faisal Shahzad incident... has he been affected by indiscriminate bombing by the drones," he said.

Musharraf also expressed support for the Pakistani government's decision to block access to Facebook this week in response to an online group calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed.

"You cannot have photographs of the Prophet Mohammed -- leave aside going for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed," Musharraf said. "It's most unfortunate. We must understand, these are sensitive issues. And for the sake of independence of media, liberty of speech, we cannot hurt sensitivities of millions of people."

 
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