Image: Pervez Musharraf
Lefteris Pitarakis  /  AP
Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, talks during the launch of his new political party, the "All Pakistan Muslim League" in central London, on Oct. 1, 2010. Musharraf will be arrested in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto if he returns to the country, a government prosecutor said Saturday.
By
updated 1/8/2012 10:59:34 AM ET 2012-01-08T15:59:34

Former President Pervez Musharraf announced Sunday he would return to Pakistan later this month and prepare for elections, something that could add to political turbulence in an already tense atmosphere in the country.

Musharraf's first challenge may be to avoid arrest on his arrival.

On Saturday, state prosecutors said they planned to detain the former army chief on charges he failed to provide security for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto ahead of her assassination in 2008. While much remains unpredictable, commentators have speculated that the army will not allow Musharraf to be arrested, setting up fresh conflict between it and the unpopular government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Musharraf told several thousand supporters in Karachi by telephone on Sunday he would return between Jan. 27 and Jan. 30.

In apparent reference to the charges against him, he said: "I am coming to Pakistan, but there are attempts to scare me off. There are baseless cases against me, but we will face those cases in court."

Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down in 2008. He has been living in London and Dubai since then, planning a comeback.

Legal troubles aside, few give him much chance of success.

Musharraf was widely disliked by the time he stepped down, and many of his supporters have since joined other parties.

But he has money, and his army connections still count for something, even if it is unclear whether the current military leadership will support him.

Elections are not scheduled until 2013, but there has been increasing speculation that Zardari may go to the polls this year.

Zardari is under pressure from the military over a memo sent to Washington seeking its help in stopping a supposed coup.

On Saturday, Zardari said he had no intention of stepping down over the memo scandal, as critics have called on him to do.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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