Govt rejects Musharraf's request for Saudi Arabia visit

Pakistan's former dictator Pervez Musharraf, facing a slew of court cases, was denied permission Thursday by the government to travel to Saudi Arabia to condole King Abdullah's death.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 29, 2015, 23:00 PM IST

 Lahore: Pakistan's former dictator Pervez Musharraf, facing a slew of court cases, was denied permission Thursday by the government to travel to Saudi Arabia to condole King Abdullah's death.

 The 71-year-old former president had made a request to travel to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences on the monarch's death.

 "The name of former president Pervez Musharraf has been put on the exit control list (ECL) after a court decision, therefore he is asked to approach judiciary regarding his request to leave the country," the interior ministry said in a statement.

 Musharraf, in his request, stated that King Abdullah had been like a brother to him which was why he wanted to travel to the Kingdom. He had also told the government that he was ready to give an undertaking that he would return to Pakistan if he was allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia.

 However Musharraf's request was rejected by the Interior Ministry due to his name being included in the ECL.

 Faisal Chaudhry, Musharraf's counsel was quoted by media reports as saying, "Yes, the government rejected Musharraf's plea today, saying they are unable to entertain the request to remove his name from the Exit Control List (ECL)."

 "Our legal team will decide about our next steps how to pursue this matter," he said.

 Maj Gen (Retd) Rashid Qureshi, Musharraf's spokesman said the government is on the course of settling a "personal vendetta" with him.

 King Abdullah, 90, passed away on January 23 and was succeeded by his 79-year-old half-brother Salman.

 Earlier, media reports had suggested that the government had in principle agreed to allow the former president to leave the country. Musharraf had sought a relaxation of the travel ban placed on him so that he could fly to meet members of the Saudi royal family.

Musharraf's name was added to the ECL due to multiple high-profile cases pending against him, including high treason and murder. Musharraf is facing the slew of court cases after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai to take part in general elections in 2013.

Musharraf is already facing murder charges in the case of former premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. He has also been charged in connection with the 2006 killing of Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti's in an army operation.

Musharraf was also indicted in a high treason case in March last year for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007, the first army chief to face such a prosecution. He has also been charged in the judges' detention case.

Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Musharraf, facing impeachment following elections in 2008, resigned as president and went into self-imposed exile in Dubai.