Court says it cannot lift Musharraf travel ban

AFP, KARACHI, Pakistan

Tue, Dec 24, 2013 - Page 6

A Pakistani court yesterday said it was unable to lift a travel ban on former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, a day before his trial for treason was due to start.

Musharraf’s lawyer petitioned the Sindh High Court last month to remove the retired general’s name from an “exit control list” (ECL) so he could leave the country to visit his sick mother in Dubai.

The 70-year-old has faced a range of criminal cases since returning from self-imposed exile in March, but there have been rumors a deal would be struck to let him leave the country, to avoid the all-powerful military being embarrassed by having its former chief tried by civilians.

Musharraf lawyer A.Q.Hallipota said the Sindh court in Karachi had ruled that as the government imposed the travel ban, it must decide on whether to lift it.

“A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court has ruled that it did not put Musharraf’s name on the ECL,” A.Q.Halipota said.

He said the court asked the petitioner to contact the appropriate forum — the government.

Musharraf has faced criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule since returning to Pakistan, including the murder of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

He was granted bail in the four main cases against him, but remains under guard at his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad because of threats by Taliban insurgents to his life.

Last month the government announced it would put him on trial for treason and he has been ordered to appear before a special court today.

It will be the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former military ruler is to face a treason trial.

Speaking publicly last week for the first time since being put under house arrest in April, Musharraf vowed to face justice and not flee the country.

London lawyers for Musharraf on Friday slammed the treason trial as politically motivated and urged the UN to intervene.