Former President Pervez Musharraf has been advised by Saudi officials against returning to Pakistan, citing “danger”, days ahead of his planned homecoming from self-exile to lead his party in May 11 polls.

Musharraf, who has been living in London and Dubai since he left Pakistan in early 2009, travelled to Saudi Arabia yesterday for what his party said was a “one-day visit to perform Umrah”.

An unnamed delegate travelling with Musharraf was quoted by The News daily as saying that Saudi officials had told Musharraf that he should consider postponing his return to Pakistan.

Musharraf had recently announced that he intended to fly into Karachi on March 24.

“The Saudis are concerned that Musharraf will be putting himself in the way of danger if he returns to Pakistan as planned. The situation in Pakistan, especially in the coming days, is going to be completely hostile to him,” the delegate was quoted as saying.

“Saudi officials held meetings with him in Dubai and whispered to him that the Kingdom thought that Musharraf should review his plan and not fall to emotional tinge,” the delegate said.

The delegate said Saudi officials, including intelligence agents, had held meetings with Musharraf.

The same officials were involved in negotiations that saw the former premier Nawaz Sharif leaving Pakistan for Saudi Arabia after Musharraf took over in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Senior officials of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party from the US and Europe have accompanied the former dictator to Saudi Arabia.

Analysts believe that Musharraf’s party will lose support and perform poorly in the polls to be held on May 11 if he is unable to return to Pakistan on Sunday.

The APML leader Asif Shahzad Chaudhry, currently in Dubai, said Musharraf has every intention to go back to Pakistan and there would be no “looking back”.

“Tickets have already been booked. From the UK, Europe and US, nearly 150 people have their tickets booked. Nearly 100 journalists will also accompany us,” Chaudhry said.

(This article was published on March 22, 2013)
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