Musharraf seeks forgiveness, says will not flee country

Parvez Musharraf
Islamabad, Dec 20: Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has sought "forgiveness" for any wrongs he may have committed during his nine-year regime, saying he will face all cases against him and not flee the country like a coward.

"Whatever I did, I did it for the country. It could be wrong but there was no bad intention in it. Even then, if someone thinks that I have committed a mistake, I seek forgiveness," Musharraf said in an interview to ARY News, his first since he was placed under house arrest at his palatial farm house on the outskirts of the capital eight months ago.

As insisted by his close associates earlier, Musharraf said he will not leave the country to run away from the numerous cases registered against him including a high treason case. "I don't want to runaway cowardly and will face all the trials to makes the thing clear," the former President said.

"Let there be 100 trials," he said in the interview aired last night. Musharraf has been granted bail in all four major cases against him, including one over the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, but is now facing trial in a special court on the charge of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007.

This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a former military dictator is facing trial for treason. If convicted, Musharraf could face either life imprisonment or the death penalty. With a shawl around his shoulder, kurta-clad Musharraf sounded emotional at times and termed revival of the economy and tackling extremism and terrorism as the most serious challenges the country is facing.

Asked about the negotiations with the Taliban and other militant groups, he said he supported it but "talks should be held from a position of strength."

The former President said talks are being held from a position of weakness. "I don't agree with begging before them saying please spare us our life...Government says talks and the Taliban says we don't want to talk," he said, adding that there was no respect and the government should exercise its power.

However, Musharraf said the Taliban and others were "our own people" who had gone astray.


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