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Musharraf Leaves Pakistan After Travel Ban Lifted

by AFP


Former president has traveled to Dubai to seek medical treatment abroad.

Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf left the country early Friday for what his lawyers said was urgent spinal care after a three-year travel ban was lifted.

Musharraf boarded an Emirates flight bound for Dubai that departed from Karachi airport at 3:55 a.m. an airport source told AFP, adding that the retired general appeared “relaxed.”

A local party spokesman in Karachi said later Friday that Musharraf had landed in Dubai and reached his residence, where he will stay for some weeks before seeking an appointment with doctors in the United States.

Lawyers for the former president, who is facing charges of treason (for imposition of emergency in November 2007) and murder (over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto), have said he needs urgent medical treatment not available in Pakistan.

“I am going abroad for treatment but will return to face the cases against me,” a party spokesman in Karachi quoted him as saying. “I am a commando. I love my motherland.”

“Six to eight weeks are required for the treatment and then he would go back home,” said Dr. Amjad Malik, a spokesman for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party in Dubai.

But analyst Hasan Askari told AFP Friday the chance of Musharraf coming back was “minimal,” adding that his return could cause problems for the government and embarrass the military. “In order to defuse the conflict, the government agreed to let him go,” he said.

Musharraf was banned from leaving Pakistan in March 2013 after he returned to the country to participate in the general elections. The former ruler was barred from taking part in the polls and instead faced a barrage of legal cases.

In January, Musharraf was acquitted over the 2006 killing of Baloch rebel leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. But four cases against him remain—one accusing him of treason for imposing emergency rule, as well as those alleging the unlawful dismissal of judges, the assassination of opposition leader Bhutto, and a raid on Islamabad’s Al Qaeda-linked Lal Masjid.

Last June, the Sindh High Court lifted Musharraf’s travel ban, but the federal government, headed by his long-time rival Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, appealed the verdict. The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Sindh High Court decision.

“Today, lawyers of General Musharraf filed a proper application and in the light of the Supreme Court decision, the government has allowed him to go abroad for medical treatment,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed Thursday. Musharraf’s lawyers have provided guarantees he will return to Pakistan in six weeks and pledged he will appear in court for several ongoing cases against him, Khan said.

A large convoy of police and paramilitary Rangers left Musharraf’s home in Karachi around 3:30 a.m. Friday as a decoy to waiting media crowding his street, while the general travelled to the airport separately.

Musharraf ousted Sharif from power in 1999 in a bloodless coup and resigned the presidency in 2008. Analysts had previously said they believe the government lacks the will to offend Pakistan’s military by pushing for Musharraf’s prosecution.

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