Manchester Evening News- Musharraf’s comeback marred by protests

A protester is lead away by security during the launch of Pervez Musharraf's new political party at the Sheridan in Manchester

By Majed Iqbal- Nearly 2,000 people packed into Manchester’s Sheridan Suite over the weekend where former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf launched his new political party despite protests inside and outside the building.The Manchester launch followed ones in London and Birmingham where Musharraf announced his comeback with the All Pakistan Muslim League to restore a ‘troubled Pakistan.’

After a musical start with positive images of Musharraf’s vision for the country under his new party, the ex-president had barely began to speak when the first protester began shouting, calling the former chief a ‘traitor.’

A further seven protesters stood up one by one accusing Musharraf of corruption in power, that democracy and dictatorship had failed the country, and said the people of Pakistan were waiting for a real change for the country through the implementation of caliphate state.

One of the protesters, Mohammed Kassim said: “I stood up very close to the stage, almost face-to-face with Musharraf, and started to speak out. Musharraf, the former general was taken back and moved away from the microphone, startled and clearly visibly shaken. I called him a traitor, and said that I wanted a caliphate for Pakistan.”

Another protester added: “Musharraf, the American agent thought he could come to Manchester and there would be no one to account him. The corrupt rulers of the Muslim world must be replaced with the Islamic khilafah, the community at large must join in with this work and account those rulers who come to the UK.”

The protesters were largely from the Islamic political party, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, who are calling for the re-establishment of a khilafah state in the Muslim world.

The launch was further marred by chanting and shouting  as pictures of Musharraf were ripped.

The protesters were then escorted out by security.

Musharraf later addressed the packed audience saying the protest will not deter him from his goals,

Earlier, he said that he should have remained Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another five years and that he would return to Pakistan for the next national elections, scheduled for 2013.

The former president went into exile in 2008 after his allies lost elections.

Mr Musharraf, who now lives in London, said by returning to politics he hopes to bring about a new political culture to Pakistan.

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