Islamabad: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said he is determined to return to Pakistan on March 23 next year, ending a self-imposed exile that began over two years ago.

Addressing a gathering of thousands of supporters at Hyderabad in Sindh province on Sunday on phone, Musharraf reiterated his plan to return to the country by March 23.

The former military ruler left Pakistan in April 2009 after a number of civil and criminal cases were filed against him.
Musharraf contended that Pakistan was passing through a critical phase in its history.

"The country faces extremism, poverty and an economic crisis and the poor are suffering. We have to rectify the situation and we have to more than just pray. We will have to work together," he said in his 20-minute speech.

He criticised attempts to "sabotage" his first public meeting in Hyderabad since the creation of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party and claimed official machinery was used to organise and protect PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif's rally at Faisalabad on Sunday.

Musharraf said such repressive measures would prepare APML activists to cope with their adversaries.

He criticised the police for not cooperating with the APML in holding the rally.

"You (police) should be ashamed because I had raised your salaries," he said adding, "Before I return, I want banners and posters of APML to be displayed all over Sindh," he said.