Pakistan's Musharraf vows to face cases against him

Pakistan's Musharraf vows to face cases against him
Pakistani policemen stand guard beside banners showing images of former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf near his residence in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf Thursday vowed to face all the criminal cases brought against him in his first interview since being placed under house arrest eight months ago.

Musharraf has faced a range of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule after returning to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in March, including the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

He has been granted bail in the four main cases against him but remains under guard at his farmhouse on the edge of the capital Islamabad because of threats by Taliban insurgents to his life.

"I will face all cases... I will not run away," he told Pakistan's private ARY television in an interview.

There have been persistent rumours that a deal would be struck to allow Musharraf to leave the country without standing trial to avoid a clash between the government and the all-powerful military but aides to the former commando have said he wants to stay and clear his name of all the charges against him.

So far the cases have proceeded slowly, edging from adjournment to adjournment with little clear progress apart from the granting of bail.

In November the government announced it would put the 70-year-old on trial for high treason and he has been ordered to appear before a special court on December 24.

It will be the first time in Pakistan's history that a former military ruler will face a treason trial.

Musharraf said Thursday that he was ready to face the trial.

"These are all fraud cases which lack any substantial evidence," he said. The treason accusation relates to Musharraf's decision in 2007 to impose emergency rule shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier, while he was still army chief.

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