Pakistan court allows Musharraf to go abroad

Beleaguered Pervez Musharraf may be able to fly abroad after a fortnight with a Pakistani court today ordering the government to lift a travel ban slapped on the former military ruler last year.

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 12, 2014, 18:59 PM IST

Karachi: Beleaguered Pervez Musharraf may be able to fly abroad after a fortnight with a Pakistani court today ordering the government to lift a travel ban slapped on the former military ruler last year.

70-year-old Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan in March last year ahead of the general elections ending his over four-year self-imposed exile, has faced multiple trials including one under the high-treason act for which he was placed under house arrest and barred from travelling abroad.

A two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court comprising Justices Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Shahnawaz issued a brief ruling directing the Nawaz Sharif government to remove Musharraf`s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

Judge Mazhar said the ban "placing the name of retired General Pervez Musharraf on the Exit Control List is struck down."

"The operation of the judgement is suspended for 15 days so that the respondent (the government) may file appeal before the Supreme Court."

Curiously, the prosecution lawyer was not present in the court when its decision was read out, triggering speculation that there may have been a tacit understanding behind the scene between the powerful military and the civilian government to allow the former army chief to go abroad.

Musharraf had filed a petition in the court to remove his name from the ECL so that he can visit his ailing mother in the UAE.

Musharraf, the first military ruler in Pakistan`s history to be tried in court, has rejected all the charges levelled against him, including treason.

If convicted, he can get death penalty. His trial had put the civilian leadership at odds with the military.

The government had opposed the petition saying he could abscond if allowed to travel abroad.

In its verdict today, the court said that parties opposing its ruling could move the Supreme Court in the next 15 days and made it clear that till then Musharraf cannot leave the country.

Musharraf`s lawyer Farogh Naseem said that a memorandum, which placed the former president`s name on the ECL, will be struck down after 15 days.

He said "if the federal government does not have a vengeful objective, they can withdraw the memorandum before this period is up."

Naseem said the ruling had proved that the cases pending against the former president were politically motivated.

"I told the court that my client has no intention of not returning to Pakistan..." he said.