WASHINGTON - Claiming that the people of Pakistan need a viable alternative in this hour of crisis, former president Pervez Musharraf has said that he is “prepared to take risk” of his life to return his homeland.

“Well, yes, I am prepared for the risk. I have to be prepared for the risk,” Musharraf told the CNN from Dubai, where he is preparing for his return to Pakistan. He was responding to question that he might face threat to his life when he returns.

“I feel that the country needs me, and I feel that the country is going down so badly in all socio-economic elements and from all governance point of view, that it is high time that we bring about another political alternative which can produce a government with the majority of the people, with a mandate of the people who can run Pakistan, instead of doing politics only. And I think I have a role to play there,” Musharraf said when asked why he is going back to Pakistan.

The former president said no date has been fixed for his journey yet, but it will be between January 27 and 30. “Well, there is a danger of that. Yes, indeed, there’s a possibility of that, absolutely. And when I’ve decided to go back, I have to take that risk,” he said, adding that he very well knows that there is risk to his life as well on return. “Well, more than myself, my family and my friends, my well-wishers, are worried about that much more than myself. But I have faced such threats all along since I was the president, and that threat will remain now also. I need to make proper security arrangements of my own. And also, I expect the government to give me security as authorised to an ex-president of the country,” Musharraf said. He said the current bilateral relationship between Islamabad and Washington is at its lowest ebb, lower than those post 9/11 attacks on the US. “We’re at a very poor level. I don’t think they were at this level even after 9/11, when I took over,” he said in reply to a question about the Pakistan-US relations.

He went on: “It is very disturbing, and I only wish that Pakistan and the United States mend fences and we move forward on a course which is in the interest of the region, in the interest of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the United States.“

The former president said there is no danger to the safety and security of the country’s nuclear weapons, unless it is ruled by extremists, which is unlikely going to be the case.

“If the country goes down and it gets into the hands of extremists as a country from the government, then only it is possible that the arsenal then belongs to them... But I don’t see that as a possible,” Musharraf said.