Former Pakistan president Musharraf 'ready to face jail'

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, facing a barrage of legal cases over his time in power, said on Monday that he had done nothing wrong but was ready to go to jail if the courts ordered it.

The retired general, who returned to Pakistan last month to run for parliament in the May 11 general election, is accused over the killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a rebel from the region of Balochistan.

Lawyers are also trying to have him put on trial for treason for subverting the constitution by imposing a state of emergency and sacking judges in 2007. A hearing in this case on Monday was adjourned to Wednesday.

At the launch of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party's manifesto held amid tight security at his farmhouse near Islamabad, Mr Musharraf said his conscience was clear.

"I have a conviction in my heart that I have not done anything wrong," he said.

"The only thing in my heart was to save Pakistan and now I am here I have the same commitment, that I will save Pakistan."

Asked what he would do if he lost the cases and was sentenced to prison, Musharraf told reporters: "If that is the decision, I am ready to go."

The 69-year-old, who has had death threats from the Taleban, is standing for parliament in a seat in the remote northern district of Chitral, close to the Afghan border.

Last week, he told CNN that he had authorised some US drone missile strikes on Pakistani soil during his 1999-2008 rule but on Monday he said he was now "totally against" them.

The drone campaign is hugely unpopular in Pakistan, where officials repeatedly denounce the strikes as a violation of sovereignty that inflame anti-Americanism, despite leaked US diplomatic cables that showed leaders allegedly agreed to them in private.

Musharraf's power base has withered since he left office and the APML stands little chance of making serious gains in the election.