Musharraf apologizes to the nation

-File photo

Ex-President of Pakistan General (R) Pervez Musharraf apologized on Friday for mistakes made during his last term in office as he launched a bid to return to power.

Musharraf told  supporters that some of his decisions had negative repercussions for his nation of 175 million. Critics have accused him of doing little to improve Pakistan’s stagnant economy and not doing enough to clean up the political infighting that has plagued the country.

“I take this opportunity to apologize,” he said. “Human beings make mistakes.”

The 67-year-old former leader spoke as he launched a new political party, arguing that the current leadership offers no hope of alleviating the “darkness that prevails in Pakistan.” He said under his government there would be progress in every field.

“I have confidence I can lead Pakistan toward light,” he said.

Musharraf declared that he had the experience to tackle the challenges of al-Qaida, the Taliban in the mountainous tribal regions and the spread of extremism in Pakistan. He insisted that, unless Pakistan was part of the fight against terrorism and extremism, “that fight will not succeed.”

“People should be patient with Pakistan,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t do anything different this time around to tackle extremism, but improving the economy was a critical part of the equation.

“There will be zero tolerance for extremism,” he said.

Security was tight for the launch, which took place at a storied and posh former gentlemen’s club. Reporters were swept for weapons and explosives before coming in, then bomb-sniffing dogs were brought into the room where about 200 people applauded at the announcement.