Musharraf’s new life in west London
Thursday, 10 Sep, 2009
LONDON: Former president Pervez Musharraf is living in a flat near London’s Edgware Road. The former military leader has swapped the presidential palace in Islamabad for a relatively modest flat surrounded by the shisha bars and kebab joints of London's Arabic quarter, The Guardian said in a report on Thursday.
The area is also home to Tony Blair, who owns a large house in the nearby Connaught Square.
The former president has chosen a simple apartment in a red-brick complex to retire in. It is a contrast to the pomp of Musharraf's nine-year rule in Pakistan, during which he was guarded by liveried soldiers and surrounded by political acolytes, the report says.
However, security remains tight at his £1 million London flat. The retired general is guarded by a small team of retired Pakistani commandos, which he pays for himself, and has a protection detail from Scotland Yard, the report adds.
He is said to dine regularly at the Dorchester hotel and hosts regular music evenings at his apartment. He regularly plays golf and often plays bridge with his confidante, Brigadier Niaz Ahmed, a retired arms dealer.
It is claimed that the general, who resigned 13 months ago, is better served by being out of Pakistan. The report also says Musharraf pays £450 to hire an official VIP lounge every time he flies from or to Heathrow airport.
The report also says Musharraf travels in a bulletproof vehicle.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, a critic in the House of Lords, tabled a parliamentary question about the cost of these security arrangements in July.
The government replied that it was the ‘established Home Office policy not to comment on protective security arrangements and their related costs’.
Nazir said ‘our old age pensioners don't get security, so how can we pay for an old general who wants to enjoy himself in London?’
The Pakistan-born peer said he was collecting evidence for a possible war crimes prosecution through Bindmans solicitors, who pursued the retired Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet through the British courts in the late 1990s.It is claimed that Musharraf is on a visitor's visa and it has been reported that he intends to take up permanent residence in the Middle East or in the United States, where his son Bilal lives, the report said.