Musharraf arrives back in Pakistan despite threats
Posted on: 24 Mar 2013
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has arrived back in Pakistan, ending his self-imposed exile and defying death threats.
His plane touched down in Karachi's international airport after a flight from Dubai.
General Musharraf, who plans to lead his party in the May general election, said earlier he was taking precautions.
Meanwhile, 17 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in the north-west of Pakistan overnight.
They were attacked at a security checkpoint in the tribal region of North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border and a known stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
A recent Taliban video threatened Gen Musharraf with snipers and suicide bombers.
He faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder, but on Friday the Pakistani authorities granted him protective bail in several outstanding cases, freeing him from immediate arrest once he steps foot in Pakistan.
'Like a wedding party'
The former leader tweeted a photo of himself aboard the plane, writing: 'Settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home. Pakistan First!'
On the way into the airport, the smiling general told the BBC's Orla Guerin it felt like a wedding party.
A group of about 200 supporters and journalists are travelling with the former military ruler - including party members from the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the US.
Before take-off chants of 'Long live Pervez Musharraf' broke out on board, says our correspondent.
Some of the general's supporters wore white armbands saying they were ready to give their lives for him.
But aides confirmed a planned mass rally had been called off because authorities withdrew permission. Instead, they said, a rally would be held at the airport in Karachi upon arrival.
The former military leader has lived in London and Dubai since stepping down five years ago.
He has vowed to return several times in the past, but those previous attempts have been abandoned.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in North Waziristan, in which 34 soldiers were reportedly also injured.
A car packed with explosives blew up next to a pair of fuel tankers at the check post, intelligence officials told AP news agency on condition of anonymity.
The blast set the tankers on fire and nearby military living areas were destroyed, they said.
Janan Dawar, an eyewitness who lives about 14km (nine miles) away from the checkpoint, said he had heard a huge explosion and had seen flames leap into the air.
Three civilians were also injured.
It appears that most of the soldiers targeted had been working in road construction, part of the army's strategy for winning hearts and minds locally.