Musharraf could leave Pakistan today after court grants him bail

Former president free to leave after court grants him bail in case involving death of rebel leader

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 11:53am

Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf could leave Pakistan as soon as today after a bail decision by a court paving the way for his release, his lawyers said yesterday.

"The jail staff present at his house will pack up and leave as soon as they get the orders from the lower court," Ahmed Raza Kasuri, who heads the Musharraf defence team, said.

"Musharraf can fly to Dubai tomorrow once these legal formalities are completed."

Another lawyer Ibrahim Satti said a three-member Supreme Court bench had granted bail in a case over the death of a rebel leader in return for surety bonds worth two million rupees (HK$146,000).

Another counsel for Musharraf, Qamar Afzal, said bail was granted due to lack of evidence.

"Pervez Musharraf is a free man now after getting bail in the Bugti case," Afzal said.

Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who has been under house arrest in a villa on the outskirts of Islamabad, was army chief when he took power in a 1999 coup. He later became president as well. He stepped down after Bhutto's party won an election in 2008.

He returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest a May 11 general election, but he was disqualified from standing because of pending court cases. The poll was won by the party of Nawaz Sharif - the prime minister he deposed in his coup 14 years ago.

Musharraf's spokesman Raza Bokhari said the general was "gratified" by the bail ruling but determined to clear his name of charges he maintains were politically motivated.

The secretary-general of Musharraf's political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, said there "has been no deal with the government, nor has Musharraf taken any decision to immediately leave the country".

Many observers believe a face-saving reason for his departure will be found, possibly ill health.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse