Exiled Pakistani leader attends UK rally

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Exiled Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has told a rally in Britain of his plans to regain power.

The former premier, who led Pakistan for nine years from 1999 after taking power in a military coup, has launched a new political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League.

Speaking Urdu, the general addressed an audience of about 1,500 people in Birmingham. He admitted mistakes were made while he was in office but insisted he had learnt from them, according to an MP who attended.

Birmingham Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: "It went very well. He said that at the end of his term in office there were mistakes made and he apologised for that. He said that if mistakes were made he would let people know what the circumstances behind those mistakes were."

Gen Musharraf pointed to his record in power, citing among his achievements the amount of money that came into Pakistan and the infrastructure such as roads and reservoirs that were built.

Mr Mahmood said: "He said that at the moment people are not able to feed themselves and that that didn't happen when he was in power. He said he wanted to move forward and offer himself to the people."

The former leader was offered a predominantly warm reception by the audience at New Bingley Hall, and was greeted with chanting and waving.

Meanwhile members of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir held a peaceful demonstration outside the venue, branding Gen Musharraf "a slave of America" who supported the war in Afghanistan.

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