A local group of Pakistani Americans in Seattle is bringing to town Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan who resigned in 2008 under threat of impeachment.

Musharraf, who now is living in London, will be in Seattle for a dinner and talk at the Bellevue Westin on March 14. The event, with ticket prices starting at $100, is open to the public.

Some local Pakistani-Americans say Musharraf has been good for the country; others strongly disagree.

The local chapter of Friends of Pakistan First, a U.S.-based organization that aims to promote democracy and development in Pakistan, decided to invite Musharraf here after seeing that he was coming to the United States in March for a series of lectures.

Musharraf is making his living these days on the lecture circuit, commanding a six-figure speaking fee, said Dr. Nasim Ashraf, the Maryland-based founder of Friends of Pakistan First and a former high-ranking official in Musharraf’s administration.

On this tour, Musharraf also will give talks to organizations in Florida, California and Oregon.
The Bellevue stop is considered more a private visit at the community’s invitation, Ashraf said, and Musharraf is not being paid for his talk here. (Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward defraying the cost of the visit and to Friends of Pakistan First.)

In Bellevue, Musharraf likely will be speaking about his vision for Pakistan’s future, Ashraf said.

There’s been speculation that Musharraf wants to lead Pakistan again — conjecture that he has neither confirmed nor denied. “We don’t foresee an announcement in the near future,” Ashraf said.

Kamran Salahuddin, a Redmond resident and board member of the local chapter of Friends of Pakistan First, said he personally believes Musharraf has been good for Pakistan, bringing more stability and improving the economy.

But regardless of whether people support Musharraf, Salahuddin said, the event is an opportunity for those in the Northwest to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the man and the country he led.

Salahuddin also had worked to try to bring Musharraf’s political rival, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to Seattle before she was slain in 2007.

“There’s a lot at stake between these two countries,” he said of the United States and Pakistan.