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Special to the tribune
Mush’s party set for Friday launch 
Shyam Bhatia in London

Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has told The Tribune that he will launch his new political party, the All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML), on October 1.

Musharraf, who has lived in the UK off and on since he stepped down from office in 2008, says he hopes to “change the political culture” of Pakistan with the launch of his party from a London base.

Asked why he had chosen to launch his party from London, Musharraf told The Tribune, “Because I’m here. You can’t do political activities elsewhere.”

He went on to explain that he could not launch the APML from Saudi Arabia for example, where he has the backing of the Saudi royal family, because that is a country where “you aren’t allowed to carry out political activities.”

Earlier the APML’s UK co-ordinator, Hamid Mirza, told the British media that Musharraf supporters from all over the world were flooding into London in anticipation of the big event this coming Friday.

He told the BBC, “We have teams coming over from Pakistan, USA, Middle East. We already have a big office here, big banners have come over from Pakistan. We’re all very excited.

“Britain allows political activities by parties of other countries that would not be allowed in Dubai and other parts of the Middle East. Whatever happens gets noticed in Pakistan, India, everywhere.”

The UK is home to more than one million Pakistanis who send large sums of money back home for both charitable and political causes.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has family living in London and still owns a flat off the British capital’s swanky Park Lane. The late Benazir Bhutto owned a number of properties in the UK, including a multi million pound country in the countryside, as well as a plush London apartment. Her three children are or have been students at British universities.

Altaf Hussein, leader of the MQM, which is a member of the coalition government in Islamabad, also lives in London but sends messages to his adoring supporters via television satellite. Musharraf’s supporters say he lives far more modestly than any of his former and current rivals. But his London home is still a £1million three bedroom flat off London’s Edgeware Road.

He has also been spotted at the fashionable Dorchester hotel, of which he is a regular patron, and he plays at any number of upmarket golf courses in and around the city. Family friends are regularly invited to musical evenings at the Edgeware apartment.

Although guarded by a team of ex-Pakistani military commandos, he also gets UK taxpayer-funded protection provided by Scotland Yard, prompting one of his British critics, Lord Nazir Ahmed to recently comment, “Our old age pensioners don’t get security, so how can we pay for an old general who wants to enjoy himself in London?”





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