Lawyer throws shoe at ex-Pakistan president

AP, KARACHI, Pakistan

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 6

An angry lawyer yesterday threw a shoe at former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf as he headed to court to face legal charges following his return to the country after four years in self-imposed exile, police said.

Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 but was forced to step down nearly a decade later, is disliked by many lawyers throughout Pakistan because of his decision to suspend the chief justice of the Supreme Court while he was in office.

The lawyer tossed his shoe at Musharraf as the former military strongman was walking down a hallway in the court building in the city of Karachi surrounded by a mob of security, supporters and journalists, police official Nasir Aftab said. The shoe did not hit Musharraf, and the lawyer was not detained because no charges were filed against him, Aftab said.

Local TV channels showed video of the incident, but it was impossible to identify the show thrower because he was hidden behind part of the corridor.

Following the incident, judges granted Musharraf an extension of pre-emptive bail in three cases against him, meaning he cannot be immediately arrested.

Two of the cases involve the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the killing of Akbar Bugti, a Baluch nationalist leader who died in August 2006 after a standoff with the Pakistani military. Musharraf was granted an extension of 21 days in those two cases.

He was granted a 15-day extension in connection with a third case, in which he is accused of illegally removing a number of judges at the time, including the Supreme Court chief justice, said Shahadat Awan, the prosecutor general for Sindh Province. Musharraf was also restricted from leaving the country during the period that his bail was extended, Pakistani state TV reported.

Musharraf returned from exile on Sunday, seeking a possible political comeback despite the legal charges against him and death threats from Taliban militants. However, he was only met by a couple thousand reporters when his flight from Dubai landed in Karachi, and analysts have said they do not expect his party to attract much support in parliamentary elections scheduled for May 11.